The bicycle turns two hundred years old and Dr. Stefano Aglieri, Head of Cardio-respiratory Rehabilitation in Humanitas, spoke about the benefits of cycling in an interview with Cuore e denari on Radio 24.
“There are numerous scientific certainties that have been established for years that highlight how physical activity on bicycles is, for example, an excellent system for training the cardiovascular system, contributing to the prevention of diseases of our times, such as heart attacks and strokes.
In this sense, physical activities such as running, walking, Nordic walking are just as beneficial, if not superior. The bicycle has also been used for many years in cardiac patients who have undergone heart surgery or a heart attack, as a tool for training and strengthening the muscles and their cardiovascular system,” emphasizes Dr. Aglieri.
How much to pedal so that the activity is considered training?
“Cycling at a speed of 10 km per hour is pleasant but not very effective; it is necessary that our body responds to a certain solicitation in order to have benefits in terms of training. It is therefore necessary to pedal for fairly long distances and with committed pedaling; we can suggest an indicative duration of one hour a day, almost every day, or 30-45 minutes of pedaling with greater energy.
Let’s try to give a concrete example: if you go to work by bike, doing one km a day, you make a good and healthy choice but that is not enough to call it training. If you cycle a dozen kilometers a day, we already have a good exercise, even if we are not yet at optimal levels,” the specialist points out.
Benefits and contraindications
“Cycling is a sport practiced at an amateur competitive level even by people over 60-70 years of age, because it is a type of physical activity that can be carried out even at that age without major contraindications. These are people who may have a hard time walking or have osteoarthritis on their knees, but who can ride their bikes safely and calmly.
As previously said, it is also indicated for those who suffer from disabling pathologies unsuitable for other types of activities, such as heart disease.
Beware if you suffer from low back pain or acute back pain; in these cases it is better to consult your specialist before cycling; this activity in fact is likely to be counterproductive because your back could be affected. On the other hand, there is a different benefit that can be obtained in the case of chronic suffering in the column, but always under medical advice.
Moreover, attention should be paid to those who suffer from venous insufficiency with varicose veins; the effort you exert is borne by the legs and therefore it is good to talk about it with your doctor or specialist,” suggests Dr. Aglieri.