14 Scientifically-Proven Benefits of Cycling and Spinning
Spinning has become one of the most popular activities in gyms today. This has created multiple variations of the popular exercise class including forms like spin disco, hip hop spin classes and even altitude spin classes.The reasons for its rise in popularity is due to the many benefits cycling affords, with the added benefit of carrying out the activity in an indoor facility, which is unaffected by weather or adequate cycle routes. The benefits of cycling include health, aesthetic and functional perks that can help improve sports performance, quality of life and help prevent a number of diseases.
These benefits are discussed below before cycling, or spinning, is compared to other popular gym activities to see which is the superior form of physical activity.
Health Benefits of Cycling
As mentioned above, one of the aspects improved is health. This can come in a variety of forms including improving heart health, lung capacity, weight loss and many more.
These benefits to health can also have a crossover effect on physique and sports performance and, so, act as one of the most important considerations to cycling.
1.Cycling Helps Improve Cardiovascular Health
Cycling, even at low intensity, causes blood pressure to rise (1). This places stress on both the heart and the blood vessels, causing areas of the heart to increase in size and the blood vessels to increase flexibility (2, 3).
These adaptations help lower blood pressure, improve heart functioning and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (4, 5).
Also, unlike many other forms of exercise,the intensity of cycling can easily be increased or reduced, making g this activity suitable for all types of individuals.
2. Spinning Improves Lung Functioning and Oxygen Transport
Cycling, particularly at higher intensities, also increases oxygen use by the body, which increases the demand for more oxygen and leads to a rise in breathlessness and the increase in breathing rate that many are familiar with (6).
However, this increased demand also causes an increase in red blood cell production, which aids oxygen transport and use in the body (7). It also improves lung function by allowing deeper breathing and more efficient oxygen absorption in the lungs (8).
This has been shown to help improve overall lung functioning as well as help improve breathing in people who suffer from lung disease and smokers (9, 10). Again, these benefits can be obtained from using lower intensities if high intensity spinning is too difficult at first (11).
3. Cycling Can Improve Leg Strength and Functional Capability
As well as improve more ‘aerobic’ type functions like blood pressure and breathing, cycling can also help improve leg strength and movement capabilities, particularly in elderly individuals (12). More intense cycling, typical of many spinal classes, can also help further improve strength and muscle mass in the legs (13).
This makes spinning a great overall activity that can be used to help reach a wide range of health goals that can have a lasting impact after each training session.
4. Spin Classes Can Improve Mood and Protect Against Mental Illness
Spinning is an aerobic exercise, which has been shown to have a protective effect on brain cells and helps prevent mental illnesses such as depression, alzheimer’s disease, dementia and bipolar disorder (14, 15, 16).
This is because aerobic exercise helps encourage brain matter growth and increase blood flow in the brain (17).
Considering that mental illness can be one of the most prevalent set of diseases in the world (18) cycling offers a cheap and time-efficient way to improve and maintain mental health.
5. Spinning Can Help Prevent and Treat Diabetes
High intensity cardiovascular training such as that in spin classes have been shown in multiple studies to increase insulin sensitivity in the exercised muscles and decrease the amount of insulin required to regulate blood sugar (19, 20).
This helps prevent type 2 diabetes from occurring, particularly in high risk individuals with insulin resistance, or help reduce the amount of insulin needed to treat type diabetics (21, 22).
6. Spinning Is Low-Impact and Help Treat Arthritis
Cycling, like many aerobic exercise, can help treat arthritis by reducing inflammation and helping promote joint health (23, 24).
However, unlike most other aerobic workouts, like jogging, cycling is a low impact activity that won’t cause joint pain when carrying out the exercise.
This also makes spinning an activity that can be done by a wide range of individuals and can be especially effective and beneficial for people suffering with rheumatoid or osteoarthritis.
Fitness Benefits of Spinning
As stated, many of the health benefits have a crossover effect to fitness and performance in various sports. It can also help recovery from strenuous exercise, allowing performance to be maintained and workouts to be completed with maximum result.
With all of these benefits, the effect of spinning for athletes and fitness enthusiasts must be reviewed.
7. Cycling Helps Improve Work Capacity
Cycling helps develop aerobic work capacity through increasing oxygen consumption and the size of the heart, and therefore increasing the amount of blood it can pump (25).
Also, due to the higher intensity of spinning, it can also help develop anaerobic endurance by increasing the amount of lactic acid a person can handle (26), making them capable of doing more work at higher intensity.
This helps improve performance in endurance sports such as running and cycling as well as in mixed sports which use a combination of aerobic and anaerobic work like field based sports such as soccer or combat sports like mixed martial arts and boxing.
8. Spinning Can Improve Muscle Mass and Strength
Unlike other aerobic work, such as running, cycling has been shown to promote muscle growth in the legs and increase leg strength (27).
This can help increase metabolism and further improve performance in mixed sports, like those mentioned above, by improving strength and power output in the legs.
It has also been shown to help preserve muscle mass more than running in those combining aerobic and strength training in one session, which can be detrimental to strength or muscle (28).
9. Cycling Helps Improve Repeated Power Output
Because the aerobic system is responsible for recovery between bouts of explosive activity, improving this system through cycling may help speed up recovery and help improve multiple bouts of explosive effort (29).
In sports like olympic weightlifting or jumping, this may help maintain power over repeated efforts, allowing a more sustained performance throughout competition.
10. Cycling Can Help Improve Recovery
Cycling can also act as an effective form of recovery, known as active recovery. This uses the aerobic system in the same way mentioned above to help decrease inflammation and muscle damage (30).
This can help improve recovery after a strenuous workout and allow continued training sooner and allow higher intensity work in subsequent sessions.
11. Spinning Can Be Done As A Substitute Workout When Injured
Spinning or cycling is one of the few activities that can be carried out if injured due to a low range of motion and a lack of impact in carrying out the workout.
This allows athletes or fitness enthusiasts to continue training and developing aerobic and anaerobic fitness even if suffering from an injury. It can also help speed up recovery from injury the mechanisms above.
Beauty and Aesthetic Benefits
Regular spin classes can also help improve physique by aiding weight loss, prevent aging and help improve skin health. This makes cycling, and other exercises, key activities for those looking to improve beauty or physique.
12. Spin Classes Help Weight Loss
Through increasing the amount of calories burned each day, spinning can be an effective way of weight loss and utilizing more fat for fuel (31, 32).
This, along with added muscle development, can help contribute to a slimmer and more toned physique and increased health through preventing obesity.
13. Spinning Can Help Fight Aging
Through reducing inflammation and increasing proteins such as collagen and keratin which are used in building and maintaining skin and hair (33), along with improving strength and movement capability (34) this allows spinning to be a very effective means of fighting the aging process.
These benefits should be considered for those looking to maintain healthy skin and hair and overall health and function throughout life.
14. Cycling Helps Boost Skin Health
Through increasing collagen synthesis in the body cycling can help improve skin health and prevent dry or flaky patches (33). This helps keep skin looking youthful.
Along with this, added bloodflow to the skin also gives it a healthy glow and further contributes to skin health.
With many individuals spending hundreds on skincare products, spin classes offer a cost-effective way of maintaining good skin while also improving health and fitness.
Spinning is a full body workout that offers a host of benefits to the body, mind and spirit. Aside from burning a moderate amount of calories, it helps to relieve stress and improve recovery. The intensity and duration of the spinning session will determine the physical benefits, but there are plenty of ways to modify a spinning workout to suit your individual needs.
Spinning classes are often run as a group, but feel free to invest in your own stationary bike or spin bike to reap the benefits of this exercise on your own time.