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    10 Reasons Why You Should Take Up Cycling In 2023

    The benefits of cycling finally got their dues during lockdown, when the number of people going for a ride increased by 200% on weekends and 100% on weekdays. 

    I got into cycling, and I’ve never been into cycling in my life. I didn’t even know what cleats were. I really got into it, and I really, really enjoyed it.
    Michelle Keegan 

    Back then, it was all about outdoor cycling. The beauty of cycling (and one of the biggest benefits) is that it takes so many different forms; maybe you’re one of said people who swears by getting outdoors for long countryside rides, while some of you might live for intervals on the Peloton parked in your living room, or the exercise bike at your local gym. Whichever shape your cycling sessions take, know that the benefits of cycling apply to all.

    Here are 10 reasons to consider taking it up in 2023. On your bike.

    1. It’s a low-impact form of cardio

    Loui Fazakerley, a sports performance coach and keen cyclist at It’s Only A Hill, tells us:

    ‘Cycling, as a low-impact workout, is much easier on the joints and your skeletal system than most cardio workouts, like running and HIIT workouts that involve jumps such as burpees. But cycling is still a great cardio workout for your lungs.’
    Loui Fazakerley

    And you don’t necessarily need to get outdoors; one 2019 study in the journal Medicina found that indoor cycling could improve your aerobic capacity, i.e. your cardiovascular system’s ability to provide your working muscles with oxygen, which it then uses for energy. It’s a no-brainer for anyone suffering with, or recovering from, injury. But remember that weight-bearing activities are required for promoting bone density – these include walking and strength training.

    2. Cycling is a great way to sightsee

    ‘A big benefit of cycling is that it gives you a huge sense of freedom. It is a great way to see the city or the countryside, and cover more ground than you can on foot,’ Fazakerley explains.

    3. It’s a mood-booster and stress-reliever

    Cycling is proven to ease stress and anxiety by calming external thoughts and forcing you to concentrate on your cadence and any speed or incline you might be working with. Fazakerley adds, ‘Once you’re confident and proficient on the bike, you can find yourself zoning out into a state of meditation, when out in quiet country lanes or on quiet roads.’

    One study found that the positive mental feelings that come from cycling are largely down to the release of endorphins in your body, which counter the production of cortisol (the stress hormone). The same research also found that cycling outside increased these effects.

    4. It’s a good way to socialise

    ‘Cycling is a great way to meet new people at one of the many cycling clubs across the UK,’ Fazakerley says. ‘Whether you want to ride fast or just want to have great conversation on or off the bike, there is a cycling club out there for you. Rides – more often than not – usually have a coffee stop in the middle, or the end… or both! The coffee is usually accompanied with a slice of cake, too. Remember, a healthy and happy life is all about balance.’

    5. Cycling can help with weight loss

    If you’re a loyal WH reader, you’ll know by now that there are plenty of factors to consider if you want to lose weight: your nutrition, NEAT exercise levels, sleep habits, and stress levels, to name a few. Studies have shown that cycling can also help, by reducing body fat and increasing muscle, which encourages healthy weight management since the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Other studies have also shown that complementing cycling with sprint and weightlifting can contribute to weight loss, by increasing your metabolism and building muscle.

    You can also read: What You Need To Know About Doing Cycling Classes For Weight Loss

    6. Cycling can be adapted to suit all levels

    As the age-old adage goes, anything once learned and easy to resume is ‘like riding a bike’. So long as you’ve done it before, you’ll be able to do it again, so a big benefit of cycling is that it appeals to both beginners and advanced exercisers. Once you’re back on the saddle, you can adapt your cycling workout to suit your fitness level; go for low intensity if you’re just getting used to it, or try sprint or incline intervals if you’re up for a challenge.

    7. It’s good for the environment

    One benefit of cycling that can’t go without mentioning is its environmentally friendly nature. Recent research found that commuting by bike over car once a day, decreases your carbon footprint by 67%, while it takes approximately 5% of the materials and energy needed to make a car, and a bike produces zero petrol. We rest our case.

    8. Cycling builds muscle

    ‘It strengthens your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves,’ says Fazakerley. ‘To make sure you’re getting the most resistance, make sure you push and pull down on every pedal with equal effort, rather than pushing down and letting the pedals spring back up. The pushing will activate your quads and the pulling will activate your hamstrings.’

    Change gear for a higher resistance on a standard outdoor bike, or increase the resistance on the notch of an indoor exercise bike to do so. A 2015 study proved that cycling certainly can help increase your muscle mass, but you’ll need to incorporate resistance training in your routine to achieve your full strength potential.

    9. It saves time and money

    If you’ve got this far in the article, it should be pretty clear that the health benefits of cycling abound, but there are practical pros to outdoor cycling, too. For one, cycling as a mode of transport will save you money on all the public transport/petrol you may use otherwise. What’s more, you’ll spend less time sitting in traffic, or queues at car parks, bus stops or train stations. Go figure.

    10. Cycling could help you live longer

    A study published in the journal Sports Medicine showed that those who habitually travel by bike live longer, healthier lives. The review looked at 17 previous studies with a total data set of 478,847 participants and found that ‘casual cyclists’, a.k.a. people who consider cycling a way of life as opposed to a get-fit-quick fix, had a 23% higher chance of avoiding premature death, as well as a significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular illness.

    The article Benefits of cycling: 10 reasons to take it up in 2023 was originally published on Women’s Health UK More

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    Tegan Phillips Is Trying To Break The Guinness World Record For Cycling From Cairo To Cape Town

    Tegan Phillips is aiming to break the Guinness World Record for cycling from Cairo to Cape Town. She might seem familiar to you for other reasons: you may have seen her cartoons on Instagram, delving into motivation, life, success and cycling. Or you may have known her from our previous article covering her travels through Europe on her bicycle.
    This time, instead of sleeping on the side of the road alone, she’s got a whole team behind her. For Tegan to successfully break the Guinness World Record, she needs a medical team, security, insurance, tents, radios, filmers and photographers.
    Her motivation for cycling such epic distances? No woman has done it before.
    “It looked like an epic ride, and—being a keen cyclist myself—I became interested to see what the women’s record was. When I searched, I discovered that there wasn’t one,” details Tegan on her website. “I couldn’t stop thinking that this record simply had to exist—partly for showcasing women’s sport in Africa, but mostly for a sense of equality in this record story.”
    READ MORE: Is There Gender Parity For Women In Sports?
    We chatted to Tegan to see what goes into prepping for an iconic venture like this.
    Michelle October: I remember chatting to you about your travels through Europe on a bike. Before, you slept wherever you could. Because you’ll have a team tracking you this time, where will you be staying at each leg? 
    Tegan Phillips: We’re hoping to mix it up between sleeping in regular tents and staying in the odd guest house where we can find one. As a cycle tourist, you quickly learn to value “4 wall” sleeping arrangements not just for a chance to sleep in a bed but also to be able to charge devices, wash clothes, have a shower, use a proper loo, make coffee with a kettle, be safe from wild animals and have everything safely locked away for a night. That said, the distances I’m hoping to ride each day are ambitious (many days over 300km planned), so if something goes wrong in a day like a long border crossing or injury, there’s a good chance we’ll have to just pull off on the side of the road somewhere in the night, even if we planned to sleep elsewhere.
    Tegan Philips in Wales
    MO: At your American training leg, are there any major changes to your schedule/packing techniques/sleeping arrangements? 
    TP: The USA training adventure, which was basically riding as many 70km loops per day as I could for two weeks, has had some uniquely fun challenges. I’m staying at the Homestretch Foundation in Arizona and it’s over 40 degrees Celsius many days here (desert life), so I initially planned to do all of my riding at night and sleep during the day. But then I found out that there’s often big lightning storms at night, which is a bit dangerous. So I ended up mixing it up a bit and doing a lot of riding in the heat, some riding in the lightning, and sleeping at the weirdest hours. I was also totally self-supported so in between riding I was popping to the shops and buying ALL THE FOOD (mostly Nutella) and trying to keep all my kit clean to avoid saddle sores. I had one major crash and a few major mechanicals so was also in and out of doctors offices and bike shops. All of those things will hopefully be reduced on the trip, as I’ll have support to help look after my bike and do the cooking and shopping and the weather won’t be as hot (except in Egypt/Sudan) so it will be easier to ride during the day and sleep at night.
    READ MORE: How To Boost Your Fitness By Tailoring Your Exercise Routine To Your Menstrual Cycle
    MO: Your cycling has always been about just travelling via your bike. How do you feel about making a new record? Suddenly there are stakes above and beyond survival. What’s that feeling? Magical? Like there’s a new part of you waiting to be unlocked? Or not so much? 
    TP: I am so excited! But I’m also trying to focus on the process more than the outcome—it sounds cliché but I think when there are so many people invested in a certain outcome it can be overwhelming to take on that pressure of, like, “I have to do this or else.” So I keep framing it as “I am so excited to try” rather than being so excited to set the record. And that is something that I can control—how much I try.
    READ MORE: Sport Really Can Empower Women — Just Look At Banyana Banyana’s Thembi Kgatlana
    MO: Tell us about your bike! Does she have a name? What do you like about her? Is she the only bike, or do you have a “quiver” for the trip? Are you going to use a mountain or road bike for this? 
    TP: I’ll be on a road bike (it’s tar the whole way!) with a few sets of wheels and a lot of spare everything, including a spare bike. I once heard TCR [Transcontinental Race] overall winner Fiona Kolbinger once say in an interview that she always sits in the bike shop when she takes her bike in and watches the mechanics work on it or asks them to tell her what to do and she does it while they watch. So the past few months I’ve been trying to do that as well; trying to learn how to fix and look after every single tiny thing on my bike, so that I don’t feel stuck or helpless in the face of problems that I could solve by just knowing how something works.
    [embedded content]
    MO: Which part of the trip are you most afraid of? 
    TP: Ethiopia has always been the biggest stumbling block for people wanting to ride this route, and at the moment things are especially tricky. There’s been an ongoing civil war for the past two years and borders have been closed, cyclists have been arrested—and as of last week [at the time of writing] the borders which had just reopened are closed again. There’s also been some Sudan/Ethiopia conflict, and some unrest in northern Kenya. So getting through the first three countries (Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia) and being able to get out without too many delays or incidents will be a massive relief, and from there just getting home to Cape Town as quickly and smoothly as possible!
    Tegan Phillips in the WC Dash
    MO: And what are you most excited for?
    TP: I am mostly just excited to give this thing a go. I’ve been talking about it since 2015 so it’s been a long time coming, and I am so grateful that my team eventually kind of pushed me to stop delaying and waiting for conditions to ‘be right’ and to just get things organised with a plan to deal with problems as they come up. I can’t say I’m too excited to see all of the countries (compared to if I was touring) because the reality of ultra-racing is that you end up having very little interaction with the environment, especially on supported attempts. It’s ride, eat, sleep, repeat—all the way ‘til the end. But I am excited to be doing it with the COOLEST support team I could ever have dreamed of, including Cally (who used to work with you guys and is currently cycling up to Kenya!), and Henry Cock, who set a big running record last near and next year wants to run Cairo2CT. There’s also pro-runner Robbie Rorich, doctor Traci Sanders and a talented film crew (Paige Fiddes and Chris Joubert). I think we’re going to have the adventure of a lifetime.
    Tegan’s trip starts on the 17th October. Donate here. All proceeds over and above the target amount go to Khaltsha Cycles to buy bicycles for women from Khayelitsha, a township in Cape Town, where many girls and women don’t have other means to get to school or work.

    READ MORE ON: Cycling Mental Wellness SA Women In Sport Sportswomen More

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