If you're reading this, you're probably already aware that cycling's good for you. That's been recognised since the very first pedal stroke.
What's not always so heralded is how it's arguably even better for us ladies. For so many years, scientific research focused on the guys, so the distinction wasn't always clear, but more latterly the list of benefits to women's bodies and minds seems to keep getting longer.
Here are 10 reasons why us girls especially need to keep on pedalling:
1. Helps mental health
Whenever we ask our fellow Vixens to describe what cycling means to them in one word, by far and away the most frequently used word is: freedom. This video, from 2020, says it all:
It represents the chance to escape the cares of typically very busy lives and throw off the stresses and strains of the everyday. You can't put a price on that.
Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety, with younger women (16-24) nearly three times as likely as men to experience a common mental health issue.
That unique combination of endorphins, exploration and camaraderie that cycling provides is a fabulous tonic against any kind of psychological strain.
2. Supports a healthy weight
It's an eye-popping fact that 60% of women in the UK are overweight or obese. Whilst we're 'winning' against the men who clock in at 67%, it's hardly a figure to celebrate. In 2019, nearly 900,000 hospital admissions had obesity as a factor.
There are so many reasons why people end up putting on weight, many of which are in no way down to laziness or wilfully poor eating. Family responsibilities, frantic lives, busy jobs, menopause, medical disorders and the sheer cost of nutritious food are just a few.
More important to us, however, is that cycling directly combats obesity. Aside from the obvious benefits to the health of your heart, steady cycling can burn 300 calories an hour. Once you up the pace that rate can double or triple.
3. Fights osteoarthritis
Women are particularly prone to osteoarthritis. The combination of natural biology, hormones and genes, plus the obesity factor, make it the most common form of arthritis, and the rates are much higher than for men.
As a non-impact activity, cycling helps mitigate against excess weight, it's gentle on your joints and kind to your cartilages.
At VeloVixen, we sometimes laugh with our customers about being 'running refugees' - running may have caused muscle, foot, knee, hip or back issues. Cycling shouldn't do the same. It can be a sporting refuge to help keep osteoarthritis under control and improve bone density.
4. Improves your social life
Cycling is a famously sociable activity. Whilst it would be an overgeneralisation to say that men tend to go off for long solo rides, there's no question that women are especially good at grouping together to get more from it.
Cycling friendships often develop well beyond the bike. You only have to spend time on our famously supportive and warm Facebook Group to see that first hand.
5. Improves your self-confidence
Whilst cycling is, indeed, just like riding a bike, there's plenty more progression to be made.
If we had a pound for every Vixen we've spoken to who's tentatively taken her bike out of the shed for the first time in years, then subsequently accelerated up the learning curve to take on unrecognisably events and routes, we'd be rich!
Every time you break a new barrier - a first off-road ride, a first ride in cleats, a first century ride, a first gravel adventure - it provides a swell of pride in even the hardest of hearts!
6. Can protect against breast cancer
The US National Cancer Institute has reported on how 'physically active women have a lower risk of breast cancer than inactive women'. Across a range of studies, the average breast cancer risk reduction provided by physical activity was a not-insubstantial 12%.
And for those of us over a certain age, the evidence for a link is even more pronounced for post-menopausal women.
7. Great for muscle strength
Cycling uses practically all your muscles. Your heart, thighs and hamstrings are the ones you'll feel most unavoidably, but your neck, back, forearms, shoulders, triceps, core and calves will all get a boost.
Whilst cycling won't be a guarantee of losing weight per se (muscle weighs more than fat), it will help tone your body and make you physically stronger. And frankly, that's more important.
8. Great for endurance
So many of our customers start out struggling to make it 10 miles without feeling the need to collapse in an undignified heap. Yet with regular cycling, distances become longer, average speeds go up, longer hills are climbed.
Endurance comes from a combination of stronger heart, lungs and other muscles, plus the experience of having achieved a certain feat before - and can therefore go a bit further/faster.
9. Vitamin D / Immunity
Like any outdoor activity, cycling can provide a healthy dose of daylight and sunshine. And that means Vitamin D. For us women, Vitamin D is especially relevant: it helps us to absorb calcium and phosphorus, and to build immunity against a multitude of illnesses.
In fact, exercise in itself helps with immunity, causing changes in antibodies and white blood cells, and helping to fight infections more efficiently.
10. And... sleep
If you've never experienced insomnia, you're probably not human. And - dare we say it? - it seems women are more prone to it than those carefree, sleep-loving men!
It's been established that cycling helps ward off insomnia, helping you to slow down both mentally and physically when your head hits the pillow.