Bicycle use reduces heart attack risk

RIDING a bicycle reduces the risk of suffering a heart attack, according to specialists at Quirón Hospitals.
The use of a bicycle has several important health benefits, says Doctor Ernesto de Casas, a specialist in traumatology and orthopaedic surgery at the Hospital Quirón Torrevieja and Murcia: “It is one of the most complete activities that helps to prevent back pain, protect the joints and improve the circulatory and immunological system, as well as maintain good mental health.”

According to a survey by the Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU, Spanish acronym for the Organisation for Consumers and Users), the number of people using a bicycle more than once a week has grown in the past four years, to 47 per cent.
In addition, the number of people riding a bicycle to work has doubled, going from 6.8 per cent to 11.9 per cent, according to the latest Barómetro de la Bicicleta [Bicycle Barometer] issued by the Dirección General de Tráfico [General Transit Department].
Cycling is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise, with a very low risk of injury. Doctor Ramón Fernández, specialist in rehabilitation medicine at Hospital Quirón Torrevieja, states: “In physical medicine and rehabilitation, it has been proven that cardiovascular exercise on a bicycle lowers the risk of heart attack, since it promotes an improved resistance to insulin, lowers blood pressure, increases the contractile capacity of the thorax and promotes a significant improvement in the balance of lipids in the body, lowering bad (LDL, Lipoprotein A) and raising good cholesterol (HDL).”

When riding a bicycle, we exercise the upper and lower parts of the body, performing a very complete workout, which is particularly indicated for people with weight problems or cardiovascular diseases.

Below, we explain some of the benefits of switching to two wheels:

More pedalling, fewer heart attacks

Riding a bicycle lowers the risk of heart attack by 50 per cent: cycling raises your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure, so the heart saves resources. In addition, it lowers bad cholesterol, while increasing the amount of good cholesterol, which protects our blood vessels. Therefore, blood vessel flexibility improves, plaque accumulation becomes less frequent, and the risk of artery calcification is lowered.

A good posture prevents back pain

Depending on the type of bicycle we use, we must choose the recommended posture. The bicycle seat is our weight-bearing point so, depending on what height we adjust the seat at, we will not only be more comfortable, but benefit our back as well. In general, we recommend adjusting the seat so our body is leaning forward, so that the back muscles are engaged and the core stabilised. Cycling strengthens the lumbar region and prevents the appearance of herniated discs.

Exercised and protected joints

Some cardio exercises, such as running, overload the joints, especially the knees. On a bicycle, however, 70-80 per cent of the body’s weight is supported by the seat. This way, the joints exercise, but they are protected from harsh impacts and overloading. When the joints work under low pressure, energy and nutrition can be spread to the cartilage more easily. These long-term benefits prevent arthrosis.

A stronger immune system

Cycling favours the mobilisation of phagocytes, the cells that devour bacteria in our body. This mobilisation also aids the destruction of bacteria and cancer cells, which makes it a good therapeutic complement for cancer and AIDS patients.

A small effort with a large reward

It’s not necessary to invest too much time to feel the results of cycling on your body. With only 10 minutes of cycling a day, you can feel the results at a muscular level, in your blood flow and in your joints. With 30 minutes, you can feel heart benefits, and 50 minutes stimulate the fatty acid metabolism.

A healthier mind

When cycling, the brain’s oxygenation improves and it produces more endorphins, “the happiness hormones”, which are produced in greater amount during exercise. In addition, it has been proven that people who ride bicycles suffer less from depression and other psychological conditions.

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