I have always been a Pilates and dance girl, not that I do not respect runners and cyclers – I do! – But I know what particular type of workout suits my body composition the best and honor it. Also, I am a passionate long-distance walker, up to 15-20 km a day. You know, it is not that challenging, I just walk wherever I need grocery shopping, work, cafes, etc.
This winter, with dust and snow in the face, long walking is not fun anymore. Therefore, I searched for indoor cardio activity with a minimum strength component and found the indoor cycling class. And… I fell in love with it. So, today’s story is how cycling compliments my Pilates (you see the irony here, don’t you? Usually all stories are vice versa – what are Pilates benefits for sports).
By the way, I do not know how to ride a bike 🙂 Since 3 years old, I have been dancing, so I missed the time when all children learn to bike and swim. If you are curious, I didn’t know how to swim either till the summer two years ago, when I decided to obtain bareboat skipper certificate. And to be skipper with no swimming skills would be pretty embarrassing. Luckily, a great personal trainer taught me to the “enough to wait till be rescued or to get to the beach by your own” level in 10 lessons.
Back to cycling. Frankly speaking, it was not my first biking experience in life. Last summer, my husband and I rented city tandem bikes a few times (there are only 10 of them in our 1,700,000 people city, and one is broken, so it is a quest to find one). And riding was pure fun, especially the moments when people shouted: “Hey you, at behind, don’t forget to pedal!”
So, I googled indoor cycling near me and chose the one recently opened and with this specialization (I am a strong believer in specialization). The thing that hooked me is that they promised to give you special shoes, so you don’t have to take it with you from home and feel like a tired horse from local market with clumsy bags.
So far I have been going there for two months I am ready to outline the benefits of indoor cycling that I really, really like.
Top 10 Surprising Things I Learned from My Winter Pedaling
1. I feel like I am becoming closer to virtual reality future
Even though it is not a separate reality for every participant, it feels real. The gym is equipped with a very emotional staff: so that all the time to maintain a sense of the group of the bike ride. Before athletes there is a huge screen on which flit trees, roadsides, paths, smoothly escaping down, you can go and on the sand, and in mountainous terrain.. and the persona of the trainer, who is always happy to challenge you more.
2. Finally, I got one more chance to embrace my inner singer
Till this time, I was allowed to sing out loud only when I was home alone. The energetic music at the cycling class, however, not only inspires you to ride your best but also is loud enough so you can sing to the beat and stay friends with the person from the next bike after a ride.
And researches show that singing out loud calms your anxiety – the biggest hazard of today’s life. We all feel a little bit nervous now and then, not being aware of how anxiety that lasts can have unpleasant impacts on the quality of life. A recent study found that vigorous exercise can reduce anxiety and stress. With the same benefit of Pilates, I am likely to become absolutely stress-resistant in no time. Good to know.
3. It turns out, I can genuinely smile for one hour
You know that disturbing stats: seven out of ten adults report feeling stress at least once daily. While everybody has different coping mechanisms for stress, exercise is the method most frequently recommended by health care professionals and enthusiasts. In fact, the infamous ‘athletes’ high has been already proved by scientists. It is all about endorphins – happy hormones – and other scientific terms, but who cares: it works; so, it is good enough.
4. I have better sleep
Well, I haven’t needed any tricks on how to fall asleep fast except for putting my head on a pillow; but, it is comforting to know that insomniacs can rely on 30 minutes daily cycling to reduce the time required to fall asleep by half, and to increase sleep time by almost an hour.
A regular daytime exercise of any intensity has a serious effect on improving sleep quality, increasing total sleep time and decreasing awake time. This means that a 10 min walk after lunch, a one-hour aerobics class or a weight lifting session all equally improve sleep quality. But, if you exercise immediately before going to sleep, you will sleep better if you choose a moderate-intensity workout over a high-intensity exercise routine.
A recap: for better sleep, ride a bike for 45 min during the day and perform relaxing Pilates workout before going to bed.
5. Riding a bike feels natural yet quirky
This lifestyle exercise improves mood, boosts energy, and makes you feel alive. With all the benefits of competitive sports and cutting-edge workouts, casual physical activities such as walking, running, and biking have one huge advantage: studies found that those who had active lifestyles reported feeling in a better mood and having better overall well-being than those who were engaged in the gym workouts 3-4 times a week. And with all that music during an indoor cycling class, you feel pretty active in daily life.
6. I like flexibility
Basically, you can always opt for a competitive or non-competitive ride; classes can be divided into several levels: classes for beginners, for “advanced riders” and professionals. In addition, each person can choose the training depending on the purpose for which it is intended. Classes may be aimed at getting rid of excess weight, strengthen immunity, and increase endurance. It could be even a cardio without strength component if you don’t like it (I do!).
7. I have made creative breakthroughs
Even if I don’t sparkle during the bike class (I sweat or nearly die there, it depends), my creativity after class does. Some funny study found that just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise boosts at least one measure of creative thinking. Credit goes to the ﬂow of oxygen to your gray matter when it matters most, sparking your neurons and giving you breathing space away from the muddle and pressures of ‘real life.’ So, if you need an extra motivational kick to cope with creative challenges, try bikes.
8. I’ve become a better person. At least, I hope so
With those classes, it is easier to spread the love: I’ve participated in charity marathons without even knowing about that. Just after the class, our instructor told us that all that day’s studio’s profits went to shelter center. It’s always nice to be nice. And if you want to make it big, you may turn your health, ﬁtness, and determination into fundraising efforts for the less fortunate participating in national rides: The London to Brighton bike ride has raised over £40 million for the British Heart Foundation since the two became involved in 1980, with countless other rides contributing to the coffers of worthy causes.
9. They say, riding a bike improves self-esteem
Well, I believe correlation is more individual; but, perhaps, you get deep satisfaction from the fact you invest in your health and stamina.
Definitely, our perception of ourselves is important to our happiness and overall satisfaction. With the incursion of social media into every facet of our lives, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to have a positive view of our own lives while constantly being bombarded by the achievements of others. So, if you need a cure for the Facebook deceptively cheerful photos of others, bicycling has your back since any vigorous physical activity is an effective anti-depressant. And one progressive prison in California implements indoor cycling as a therapeutic class.
10. Cycling soaks you into disco atmosphere without alcohol, making it a perfect choice for healthy lifestyle freaks like me. So far, that’s my personal favorite benefit of indoor cycling.
And of course, there is a full range of conventional health benefits on cycling: building muscles, weight loss (power consumption up to 500 kcal per hour for 60 kg person). And it’s easy on the joints. What’s not to love?