While Type 1 Diabetes is not developed in relation to an unhealthy lifestyle, there is no doubt that Type 2 Diabetes is directly linked to your weight. In fact, statistically, you are far more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are overweight or obese, with a staggering 30 million overweight people in America currently dealing with the issue. Many of which are even undiagnosed.
#DiabetesWeek is our chance to discuss and learn about diabetes as a condition, its symptoms, how to handle it and, perhaps most importantly, how to prevent it where possible.
Cycling is a fantastic sport and hobby for so many reasons: It allows you to explore the great outdoors faster than you would walking (as we’re well aware thanks to our amazing cycling holidays), it gives you a sense of control over your direction. But it’s also an incredible workout, and one of the most popular ways to manage your weight. Which, in turn, will help you avoid some ugly conditions like Type 2 Diabetes further down the line.
So this #DiabetesWeek, here are just a few ways Cycling can help you stay active & healthy:
Reduces risk of serious conditions (including diabetes)
Aside from being a generally all-round positive step for your overall health, cycling has actually been shown numerous times to reduce the risk of developing some pretty nasty conditions. As we’ve discussed, this includes the focus of this week - Type 2 Diabetes. But did you know cycling has also been shown to reduce the risk of everything from heart disease to even cancer?
Because cycling is such a calorie-burning workout which gets your lungs expanding and the blood flowing around your body at a consistent rate to keep everything working as it should be, it has been listed by the NHS (who are doing some truly awe-inspiring work at the moment battling the coronavirus) as one of the sports that can have a significant impact on your mission to avoid things like heart disease and cancer, which are linked to a sedentary lifestyle.
It has even been shown in some studies to improve brain function. In short, if you want to improve your chances of staying healthy for longer, consider taking up cycling, or treat yourself to a cycling holiday, if you haven’t already!
Encourages Good Sleep
For those of us who struggle consistently to get a good night's sleep, this can be for a number of reasons. Whether it’s stress, body-clock issues or otherwise, there’s no denying that a good night’s sleep is what we all need to fully recharge our batteries and perform at our very best.
Surprisingly, this is true for diabetics, too. Research has shown that a lack of sleep can have disastrous effects on blood sugar levels for those who suffer with the condition.
But regular and relatively intense forms of exercise like cycling actually promote a healthy awake/sleep balance and help our bodies regulate our energy levels, making us more naturally tired at the end of a session and, more importantly, before we are due to go to sleep.
So if you love getting on two wheels and are struggling to get some much-needed shut-eye, try a solid cycling session in your day.
Running has long been thought to be one of the most health-beneficial exercises you can do - a fact which remains true to this day. But, like all things, it’s not without its pitfalls.
For example, while running is incredibly good for you, in the long run it can begin to have detrimental effects on your bones and joints, specifically your knees and ankles. Consistent impact to these joints over a period of years can begin to cause pesky medical issues for some, many of which require intervention to solve.
Cycling, however, does not present this problem - there is virtually no impact to any joints whatsoever (unless you fall off your bike by accident - whoops!) meaning your legs and the rest of your body should be readily pain and impact free if you plan on enjoying cycling for years to come.
Builds Muscle & Core Strength
While the legs are undoubtedly the star of the show when it comes to cycling, it may surprise you to learn that cycling actually incorporates more individual muscles and muscle groups than most other sports.
Your thighs and your calves power your forward as you pedal, but much of this momentum is generated through the hips, too. Then, of course, there are your abdominal muscles (and most muscles on the torso) which help maintain your posture and hold everything in place for the bumpy road ahead.
Speaking of bumpy roads, your balance on your bike is almost entirely reliant on your shoulders, arms and biceps absorbing any impact your wheels may encounter through uneven surfaces.
You see? There’s plenty cycling offers our body and it is without question an excellent all-round body workout, without the need to focus large amounts of time on any specific area. All you need to do is… pedal!
This is one benefit of cycling (or exercise in general) that’s often overlooked, but it’s one of the most important to talk about.
Countless studies have shown that people who engage in regular exercise like cycling are more likely to both healthier and happier than those who don’t. This could be for a number of reasons, the most obvious being the sense of self-fulfillment and victory one gains from completing a difficult cycling trail, or beating their previous personal best route time.
But there’s also a chemical element to it - when we exercise, our brains release endorphins which not only promote healing in the body, but also affect our overall mood, shifting it towards a much more positive one.
So if you love cycling and are looking to improve both your mental and physical health, try heading out for a ride. You’ll feel much better for it.
Of course, Diabetes remains one of the more pressing medical issues of our time, and it’s important we do all we can to help those struggling with it, or at the very least spread the word on diabetes, so that those in need can receive the support they deserve.
To find out more about Diabetes Week, and diabetes in general, click here.