Both running and cycling have many benefits for your health. Both forms of exercise can improve your cardiovascular health, increase exercise tolerance, reduce blood pressure, and produce many additional benefits for your brain and mood. If you spend a lot of time running, adding cycling to your exercise routine can be very beneficial, and vice versa!
Cross-training is a great way to mix things up and help you maintain a higher level of overall fitness. Varying your exercise routine can help reduce the risk of injury from repetitive strain or overuse and can add variety to your workout routine so you don’t get bored and stay motivated. Cross-training helps with full-body conditioning, so you use multiple muscle groups and improve both strength and cardiovascular endurance.
Switching up your form of exercise doesn’t just challenge you physically. When you try something new, your brain builds new neural pathways which helps you adapt to changes more quickly, form new habits, and feel more confident. Keep reading for tips on how cyclists and runners can cross-train effectively.
Benefits of Cycling for Runners
If your training is exclusively running, at some point you’ll stop seeing results, which could lead to frustration and burnout. Adding cycling to your routine will improve your overall cardiovascular fitness without damaging your joints. Cycling adds an additional boost of cardio training, will help you improve your running times, and develops stamina and endurance without putting a lot of stress on your leg muscles. Cycling builds strength in complementary muscles and aids recovery by increasing blood flow to muscles often used in running, like the calves, quads, glutes, and hamstrings, flushing out lactic acid and helping them repair.
Taking a break from running after an injury can sometimes be necessary to allow your body to heal, and cycling can help you stay in shape until you are ready to run again. Research shows that maintaining some activity while recovering from an injury will reduce the time needed for recovery. There are several ways runners can use a bike for aerobic training. Short sprints out of the saddle will spike your heart rate and help you build speed. These interval workouts push your body, forcing it to adapt quickly and grow stronger. You can also take longer, steady rides to build endurance.
Benefits of Running for Cyclists
Cycling is a great form of cardiovascular fitness, but because of its low impact, it doesn’t increase bone density. Running can help create stronger bones, which can lower your risk for things like stress fractures and osteoporosis as you age. In addition to greater bone density, running as a cross-training exercise can also provide a different type of aerobic experience for a cyclist, leading to increased capacities and muscular endurance. If you want to become a more efficient cyclist, adding running to your training is a great way to work muscles that may not otherwise be used, such as your abdominals and other muscles that aid help with posture and balance.
Running also helps lower your resting heart rate, and a lower resting heart rate can help your cycling endurance, leading to improved stamina. Running is also a great way to reset after a long training season or tough race. Running can be a useful form of exercise if you’re traveling and won’t have access to a bike. It’s easy to put on your running shoes and head out the door for a mind-clearing run.
If you want to improve your overall fitness and strength, introducing different workouts is a good plan. Start slowly and progressively build your way up over time. If you aren’t used to running, it’s better to start with short power walks or light jogs and then gradually make your way to running workouts. Try three 20-minute runs throughout the week rather than one 60-minute run and build from there as your body adapts.
Mix Up Your Workout Routine
There are many benefits that come from mixing up your workout routine. Runners and cyclists can both benefit from shifting their focus to a different form of exercise that works different muscles and helps build stamina and motivation. Try out one of our supportive and fun cycling classes or take advantage of our expansive cardio deck to increase your overall fitness level and add some variety to your routine!
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