What Are the Benefits of Morning Cycling?

Ride just as the sun rises to beat the heat.

Ride just as the sun rises to beat the heat.

Cycling burns major calories, builds a strong and shapely lower body and improves heart health. It's also easier on your joints than higher-impact activities such as jogging. To experience these and other health benefits, resist hitting the snooze button and hit your bike instead. You'll enjoy the sunrise and indulge in a little morning sweat therapy.

Conditions

A morning ride is beneficial in the summer months. Mornings are generally cooler, with the full strength of the sun is still hours away so you can protect yourself from heat stroke and sun rays. If you are a road cyclist, an early morning, pre-rush hour ride means fewer cars on the road. Heading out in the pre-dawn hours does require greater vigilance on your part in terms of watching for careless motorists so make sure you have proper attire and lights.

Adherence

A regular riding routine has a greater chance of becoming a habit when you schedule it for the morning. Leaving a ride until later in the day may mean you don't ride at all. Even if you have every intention to get out, work meetings, family events or other obligations may beckon and destroy the best laid plans. Barbara Brehm, author of the book "Successful Fitness Motivation Strategies," told the "Los Angeles Times" that people who exercise in the morning have greater adherence rates.

Energy and Mood

When you head out on your bike in the morning, you energize yourself for the day. A study published in the journal "Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics" in 2008 found that bike riding can enhance energy levels by 20 percent and decrease fatigue by 65 percent. A morning ride may also improve your daily outlook. In the 2006 issue of the "Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry," researchers reported that aerobic activity leads to improvements in mood by increasing blood circulation to the brain and stimulating the endocrine system. In a 2010 issue of "Environmental Science and Techonology," researchers found these mood-enhancing benefits of exercise increased when it occurred outdoors. The University of Essex researchers discovered that short doses of outdoor exercise exposure can be effective mood boosters, so even a quick morning ride can help with self-esteem and attitude.

Race Specific

Many races start early in the morning. If you are a competitive cyclist or participating in an organized ride, training in the morning gets you and your body prepared to work at the time most of these events begin. Training in this way sets you up for greater success. A study published in the "International Journal of Sports Medicine" in 2005, found that cyclists performed better in an early-morning time trial when they participated in an early-morning, rather than noontime, moderate-intensity cycling session the day before.

 

About the Author

Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.

Photo Credits

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