Imagine a world in which you learn something is good for you and immediately find the motivation to follow through with it. Say, exercise. What a dream, right? No one’s disputing the fact that regular exercise leads to healthier bodies and happier minds. However, so many of us still find ourselves in and out of workout routines, skipping our morning run for a few extra minutes of shut-eye, and feeling frustrated when we realize we’re back where we started, huffing and puffing after a few weeks away from the gym.
So, how do we get out of this start-and-stop rut? A recent study at Iowa State University shows that people are more likely to continue exercising if there is something intrinsically rewarding about the process. This could be something physiological, like the endorphin rush, or it could be the quality time you spend with a friend in the same workout class as you. It takes time for your mind to recognize this reward, but once you’ve created a habit of working out, you won’t have to think about whether or not to work out—you’ll simply prefer to do so.
In starting a workout routine, it’s important to find something you’ll enjoy that is also beneficial to your body and mind. A good place to start is cycling. (Full disclosure: cycling has always been one of my favorite workouts because you can sit, instead of standing like you do when running. Whatever gets you out the door, right?) Cycling has a number of benefits, including:
- It’s low impact. You’re not pounding the pavement, and thus, are not stressing out your bones.
- It’s fun. Remember when you first learned to ride a bike? After you crashed into the bushes a couple of times and finally went soaring? The feeling of cycling, whether indoors or outdoors, resurrects that elation you felt the first time your dad let go of the handlebars.
- You’ll have increased cardiovascular fitness and muscle flexibility with regular cycling. Sign me up.
- Cycling regularly will improve your posture. When you cycle, you’re working out all the major muscles in your body, including those core muscles that hold up your spine. You probably won’t even notice you’re doing it.
- Your bones will grow stronger. The prevalence of osteoporosis is on the rise, as people are continuing to live longer. Consider how grateful you’ll be when you know you’ve done what you can do prevent this.
- People who cycle regularly have lower levels of fat. Need I say more?
- Regular cycling can lead to decreased levels of anxiety and depression. Over and over studies have proved that people feel better when they’re exercising. It’s the least you can do to improve your mental health.