The health benefits of cycling

Are you one of the thousands of Brits to get on your bike in 2020? Pedals have powered us through lockdown, it seems, with an explosive growth in UK bicycle sales since March. 

Bicycle Association figures show that, overall, bike sales rose by 60% in April, compared to April 2019, with purchases of models in the £400-£1,000 bracket doubling. With more of us than ever jumping into the saddle for our daily exercise, some brands now have waiting lists until 2021, while the spare parts market has also seen a huge spike as cyclists dig out bikes from the backs of sheds and revamp them for these new times. 

At Plutus Health we’re big advocates of cycling, due to the happiness and health benefits it brings. Read on! 

Weight loss

If you’re aiming to lose weight, cycling will certainly help you shift the pounds – as long as you burn off more calories than you refuel with afterwards! According to Ordnance Survey, you can expect to use between 350 and nearly 1,500 calories per hour cycling, depending on your speed, your weight and the terrain. Losing weight helps lower your risk of cancer, diabetes and a range of other conditions, as well as lowering blood pressure and improving your mobility!

Reduced risk of serious illness

Cycling is a great cardiovascular exercise, benefitting your heart, blood vessels and lungs. Better fitness reduces your risk of illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, while some researchers even believe aerobic exercise such as cycling can reduce the risk of dementia. You can adapt your workouts as you build up, incorporating hills into your route and increasing your speed to boost cardiovascular activity.

Better mental health

Any form of physical exercise is just as good for our mental wellbeing as our health and fitness, as it produces endorphins – the feel-good chemicals that reduce stress and pain. Cycling can help reduce anxiety, combat depression, boost self esteem and promote calmer thinking. And, if you cycle outdoors as opposed to inside a velodrome, being in natural daylight increases levels of serotonin, a mood-enhancing hormone that helps you feel calm.

A cheaper and healthier commute

Not only does cycling allow you to beat those road congestion queues, but you can save hundreds or thousands of pounds each year in fuel or public transport costs – while keeping fit! Check out Cyclescheme, an employee benefit scheme saving you between 25% and 39% on the cost of a new bike and accessories, with tax-efficient payments taken directly from your salary. 

Social benefits 

Social isolation and loneliness has been a growing issue throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with rising levels of depression and anxiety as a result of lockdown, workers being on furlough and the threat of unemployment. A range of grassroots cycling organisations work to bring like-minded people together and help create friendships, such as Let’s Ride, which stages free cycling events for people of all ages and abilities. In Wales, groups of up to 30 can gather outdoors* at a distance of two metres apart, but please adhere to local lockdown restrictions.

Feeling a bit achy after your cycling adventures? Our cash-back health plans include physiotherapy, allowing you to claim a portion of the cost back each time you have a treatment! Read on for our full range of dental, optical, complementary therapy and hospital benefits

* Correct as of September 22 2020.

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