There‘s debate aplenty about the pros and cons of cycling, but one thing‘s incontrovertible: riding regularly is good for you. Here‘s eight reasons why you should travel the capital by bicycle
1. For a ten-stone woman, an hour of steady cycling (11mph) burns around 380 calories – the amount of energy supplied by a Mars bar or a pint and a half of beer. A 15-minute bike ride to and from work, five times a week, can burn off the equivalent of 11lbs of fat in a year.
2. According to a Department of Transport study, people who don’t exercise but start cycling can, in just three months, move from the third of the population who are least fit into the fittest half.
3. Worried about traffic fumes? There’s no need to be. A Department of the Environment report found that cyclists and pedestrians actually absorb fewer pollutants than car drivers.
4. In terms of energy expended, cycling 20 miles at a reasonably vigorous 15mph is the equivalent of running 5.7 miles. Both burn 620 calories.
5. Hunching over the handlebars is a common cause of lower back pain among regular riders, exacerbated by weak trunk muscles. If you’re a gym-goer, ask a trainer to help you with a Swiss ball routine targeting your obliques, anterior abdominal and lower lumbar muscles.
6. You cycle regularly, you feel really fit, but you can’t shift your gut. Why? Because the fat burned during cardio-vascular activity (like cycling) comes from all over the body, not just one area. ‘Selective’ fat loss is impossible. Instead, try abdominal exercises to firm up your stomach and make your gut less prominent.
7. Off-road cycling can be a real fitness challenge. You’re out of the saddle more, giving your glutes (bum) and leg muscles a good workout, while the core muscle groups in your upper body have to work harder to maintain balance.
8. Cycling has been one of Britain’s most successful Olympic sports in recent years. If you’d like to try some low-level competition for yourself, the website www.londoncyclesport.com carries details of events in London and the south-east plus useful information for novices.
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