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Why It’s Never Too Late to Start Cycling (and to Enjoy the Mental Health Benefits It Provides!)

By Megan Flottorp

We can probably all agree that cycling has plenty of benefits to offer regarding physical and mental health. Especially in the context of dealing with the challenges posed by the pandemic—cycling has emerged as a proper lifeline for many. In fact, the World Health Organisation has offered a number of recommendations to help us cope with the mental strain of lockdown. Two of their top suggestions: pick up a new activity; be sure to exercise regularly. So if you’re new to life on two wheels—cycling can be both!

And there’s no shame in picking up cycling later in life, either. For all its virtues—riding a bike is simply not something that everyone learned to do as a child, and there’s no doubt that it can be hard to get back in the saddle after a long break. Determining where to start can be daunting both for those who have never sat on a bike and for someone looking to brush up their skills following a long pause. Daunting—sure, but certainly not impossible! If you or someone you love has been curious about getting back on a bike (or maybe even trying it out for the first time), focusing on the potential rewards can go a long way to working up the courage to try it out.

Family cycling
It’s never too late to start cycling. © Profimedia

The pandemic has made many of us consider the importance of self-care and proactive thinking more concretely than before. So, as we all work to commit to maintaining and improving our mental health—why not make cycling part of your routine? Here are a few reasons why it is never too late to join the cycling family and benefit from improved wellbeing and confidence!

The cycling community wants more riders to join them!

Part of discovering a new joy or passion is the desire to share it, and you’ll find plenty of cyclists eager to welcome new members to their ranks. Not to mention, cycling is no longer a skill that has to be picked up in the schoolyard or back alley—there are cycling clubs and courses for all ages, abilities, and reasons for riding.

Camden Cycle Skills, for example, teaches essential bike riding skills for all ages and abilities, from beginner and intermediate group courses and open community cycling, to individual training on busy roads. No matter where you live, though, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find a similar initiative near you! And if you don’t come across anything while searching online, try getting in touch with a local bike shop or cycling club. We’re willing to bet you’ll have no trouble finding yourself an enthusiastic teacher to show you the ropes.

Cycling is a great activity for people of all shapes and sizes

A low-impact cardio workout that also builds muscle? Cycling ticks all the boxes! The resistance element of cycling means that it doesn’t just burn fat; every ride also helps you become stronger. As summarised on Healthline, there are many ways that cycling can improve your overall wellbeing, but “if you’re new to fitness or are bouncing back from an injury or illness, you can cycle at a low intensity. Then, as you get more fit, you can increase the intensity or continue to cycle at a chill pace.”

Cyclists in nature
Cycling is for everyone. © Profimedia

Thanks to the fact that cycling is easy on your body, it provides a gentle option for people who want a workout without stressing their joints. And due to the flexibility the sport offers (in addition to the impressive new fleet of e-bikes), you have complete control over just how intense your workout will be.

Cycling is one of the most sustainable forms of transport

Navigating the reality of climate change will be a challenge for all of us in the years to come. In addition to supporting more comprehensive governmental actions and policies, it will also be essential for us to do our part as individuals. Using a bike as a means of transportation is one of the best things we can do to lessen our carbon footprint and feel good about the decisions we’re making and the impact they have on the environment.

When the world is changing so quickly around us, and a lot feels out of our control—cycling is a concrete action we can take and feel proud of! What’s more, the pandemic and subsequent increase in cyclists has prompted many cities and governments to invest in better infrastructure for bikes. As a result, roads are safer than ever before, and there is a more widespread understanding that cyclists have every right to be pedalling on the road! If participating in sustainable practices is important to you, cycling could be a great way to realise your goal of a more environmentally responsible lifestyle.

Cycling in Vienna
Cycling is a part of sustainable lifestyle. © Profimedia

Cycling can literally save your life 

The fact of the matter is that all the small lifestyle decisions we make each day add up in the end. Whether we’re thinking more specifically about physical or mental health—the impact of our actions is cumulative and ends up dictating how we feel, how we act, and the quality of our lives both now and down the road. So, if you’re struggling to find the right kind of exercise or hobby to suit your individual needs— and you have a feeling that cycling might fit the bill—please don’t wait any longer to give it a try.

Whether you want to prevent health issues (both mental and physical) from arising or manage existing conditions, regular exercise is vital. Cycling has helped so many people avoid the risks of a sedentary lifestyle and its accompanying health concerns. Riding a bike can help prevent cardiac issues such as stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure—it may even help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes.

All things considered, cycling is a fun and accessible way to stay healthy, stay positive, and stay in touch with the world around you. Regardless of where you are in your mental health and fitness journey—it is never too late to hop on a bike!