There’s no question that staying physically fit prolongs the average lifespan, and even improves chances of recovery from the major health crisis, but exactly how much physical benefit does cycling have? What if you only ride a few times a week, compared to cyclists that ride 100+ miles per week? Is it worth the trouble if you aren’t gonna be hardcore about it?
In 2012 the US Dept of Health and Human Services released recommendations that adults engage in 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity per week OR 1.25 hours of intense physical activity.
“Moderate” activity was defined as having an intensity level that prevented the person from singing but still allowed them to hold a conversation.
“Intense” activity was defined as requiring the person to stop talking to continue at their pace.
The recommendations came from findings that this level of weekly activity added an average of 3.4 YEARS to the life of the exerciser. The report also showed that people who chose to double that amount of activity had an average of 4.2 years more than those who got less than the recommended amount, and those who got three times (3.75 hours of intense activity) added nearly five years to their expected lifespan.
That may not sound like a lot to someone who is still young, but that’s the difference between never meeting your grandchild to being there for their first day of kindergarten.
And contrary to what you may think, this study found that those with a history of cancer or heart disease reaped MORE benefits than those without that history.
There are a lot of theories going around about “fitness age” versus chronological age, as well, and it’s believed that your fitness age determines death much more accurately than your actual date-age that is based on a calendar. To calculate your “fitness age” go here: https://www.worldfitnesslevel.org/#/
According to bicycling.com, a Norweigan study, found that just 30 minutes on a bicycle every day caused nearly five years of extended life on average in men.
My personal belief is that it extends life expectancy because it’s one form of exercise that is easy to form habits around, and that is genuinely enjoyable. If you like your bike, then you will want to get out and ride every day.
The ways that bicycling keeps you coming back for the next ride include:
- Endless variety – you can choose a new route every day. You never have to do the same workout twice! Try a new hill, beat an old record, take it easy, drive 20 miles to a new trail, etc.
- It travels with you – no matter how busy your life gets or how far you move and travel, you can either rent a cycle or take yours with you. There’s virtually nowhere that it’s impossible to ride, so your fitness routine can go with you.
- It can save you money – being an experienced cyclist can mean that you no longer have to drive your car everywhere you go. It means not paying for parking or gym memberships. It cuts medical bills. All in all, it can improve your finances as much as it does your health.
- It prevents depression – bicycling is proven to help with moods and anxiety and can help balance your hormones. The mental boost you get from unplugging and getting outdoors for a workout isn’t something that can even be compared to a gym workout or a home aerobics routine. You will find that your anxiety and stress melt away as you pedal, and your entire life seems to improve when you get into a routine of riding 3-4 times a week.