The Tour De France is on and has reached its 20th stage today. A grueling 2500 Kms run over flat lands and mountains, the tournament tests even the best of athletes. The tournament was started in 1903 by a journalist crazy enough to think that people would participate in a 2500 km cycling run. 60 people showed up for the first event and only a few of them made it to the end. But the tournament was on and has inspired many people to cycle long distances.
Cycling has many benefits. It is a great blend of cardio come strength training both at the same time. If you can manage to get a reasonable distance behind you, this can translate into a great work out. I didn’t know this till I read but cycling works out your quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, hips, glutes, abdomens, arms, chest and back all at the same time. This means that it requires you to use all your major muscle groups while you are pedaling and therefore ends up being a great strength workout. Since it non-impact it is favored by a lot of people who worry about their knees and shins. This also makes it a great exercise much like swimming that you can continue even once you are past your best years. Cycling also helps you build your bone density which is useful, especially as with age your bone density deteriorates. Cycling is highly recommended for people with arthritis as it works out your joints and improves the flexibility of the muscles around your joints. Of course the biggest benefit of cycling is that you can pick different routes including those with an incline and this helps you increase the intensity and difficulty of your workout progressively. Hey you will even get to know your city better.
My good friend Ken has been a continuous source of inspiration for me. I have seen him cycle in excess of 50 miles a day on most days for the last seventeen years that I have known him and trust me, there are few people more fit than him. Throw him into triathlon and he will end up in the top five percentile any day of the year. Cycling is therefore a great exercise for those who are risk for diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases as it improves your heart muscles, breathing and helps you lose sugar or fat in your body. The Tour De France may be too much to dream about but perhaps someday, I too can participate in a portion of that 2500 Kms.
The image is from the Tour De France twitter newsfeed.