Our practice founder Ami Sevi is a keen cyclist who regularly gets out on his bike around our part of Yorkshire at the weekend. This week’s blog post looks at the health benefits of cycling and how it can help people with certain back conditions.
Cycling is in the top three recreational activities in the UK with an estimated 3.1 million of us getting on our bikes each month.
It’s a great way to keep the body moving through gentle exercise and, while cycling doesn’t specifically target the back muscles, they’re working to keep the body in the proper position on a bike ride, aligning the pelvis and preventing hyperextension of the back.
Unlike with other forms of aerobic exercise, it’s possible to cycle without jolts and jars to the spine and joints. A steady paced bike ride on flat ground offers low impact exercise that helps to keep the joints moving, while working muscles in the legs, abs and back.
Getting out on the bike can help to tone and strengthen these muscles, as well as boosting our balance and co-ordination. As with other forms of exercise, cycling can help to relieve stress. It may even keep us young – there’s evidence to suggest that regular cyclists have the general health of someone around 10 years younger. And it’s a great calorie burner too: a moderately paced cycle ride will burn around 500 calories an hour.
Using a stationary exercise bike can be particularly gentle on the spine while giving a good aerobic workout. Patients with spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis in particular may benefit from this gentle type of workout. Leaning forward on an upright exercise bike offers more comfort to people suffering spinal stenosis than a normal sitting position. And osteoarthritis patients find that stationary bikes provide a means to comfortable, low impact exercise while reducing stiffness, keeping joints flexible and strengthening those muscles that support the joints.
This post on Spine Health has advice on using an exercise bike for a low stress workout.
We like this post on why cycling is good for our general health from British Cycling.
The British Cycling website also has this advice for anyone wanting to get into cycling.
Have we inspired you to get on your bike? Remember your helmet and, if you’re going out after dark, your high visibility gear too.