With the threat of a third wave of COVID looming, cycling continues to be an activity of choice among people for their health, fitness, and recreation needs. According to doctors, as COVID-19 continues to cast a doubt on returning to ‘normal’, cycling remains a safe and effective means to remain active while maintaining social distancing norms. Considering the increase in demand since the beginning of the pandemic till date, Hero Cycles can affirm that COVID-19 has people aware of the benefits of cycling and all age groups continue to show interest in the activity.
Though the cases of infection in India remain volatile, often showing a northward tendency, medical experts are concerned as just over 6% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated and around 22% have received at least one dose. In order to reduce the chance of spreading infection, doctors suggest boosting the vaccination pan India to build the herd immunity. As people remain wary of visiting gyms and closed areas, cycling offers them an option to boost immunity and remain healthy and active to beat pandemic-induced health issues such as back pain and weight gain.
“We have already seen how the second wave of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in the recent past, with a massive toll on people’s lives and great challenges in the country’s medical infrastructure. Now, with a possibility of a more virulent third wave, it is essential that we also become all the more vigilant and be on our guard. We need to have an active lifestyle because our lethargic daily routine is giving rise to many serious health conditions like obesity and diabetes, which causes serious complications if affected by COVID. Therefore, cycling is the best bet to improve the body’s immune system. Cycling has a positive effect on the health of almost all people. During cycling, the deeper breathing helps to cleanse the lungs better. That is optimal when it comes to virus protection. It not only keeps you at a distance from others but also reduces the risk of contamination by the touching of surfaces,” said Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder & Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals.
The increase in sedentary behavior during the Covid-19 induced lockdowns led to significant weight gain in people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity kills at least 2.8 million people globally every year and advocates at least 150 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity per week.
“Weight gain or obesity can lead to problems like high blood pressure (hypertension), cardiovascular diseases, stroke, fatty liver and type 2 diabetes. People with these underlying health conditions are at high risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19. Cycling and brisk walking can help in improving heart health and overall blood circulation, and thus reducing the severity of heart disease. These activities also normalise blood pressure levels and help to keep blood sugar levels under control. Regular cycling and brisk walking reduce unwanted fat and bad cholesterol and are also a great way to improve mental well-being as the pandemic has triggered widespread mental health issues. After cycling and simple brisk walking, one can experience a spike in neurochemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Not only do they improve mood, but this hit of endorphins can stimulate the same areas of the brain as a painkiller. However, people are advised to engage in these outdoor activities while maintaining all Covid protocols,” said Dr Amit D Goswami, Senior Consultant in General, Laparoscopic & Bariatric Surgery, Columbia Asia Hospital, Palam Vihar, Gurgaon.
Cycling is a useful activity, as humans were never designed to be sedentary. As physical abilities decline with age, so does the immune system and cycling is a great way to slow that decline. The activity is less impactful on the musculoskeletal system and can be deemed as one of the safest and most comprehensive exercises during COVID-19. Noting the benefits, the UK has launched a major policy initiative to encourage active modes of transport such as cycling and walking to tackle the nation’s obesity crisis, a move that India, as home to over 34 million obese adults, can replicate. According to a Public Health England (PHE) report, severely overweight people face a greater risk of complications and death from COVID-19 and are more likely to need hospitalization and ICU admission.
“Cycling as an activity has been the best and easiest way to stay fit while adhering to social distancing norms. People love cycling as it is fun to ride while keeping you fit and light on the pocket along with being environment friendly. Cycling offers major health benefits including improved cardiovascular health, strengthened bones, better management of arthritis as well as weight loss. It is an ideal exercise for people dealing with stress – cycling is an excellent stress buster and a phenomenon known as cyclist’s high is said to alter the emotional processes after a ride. We should encourage more cycling for daily activities – cycle to work, cycle to school, and cycle to market should be promoted on a large scale,” said Mr. Pankaj M Munjal, Chairman and Managing Director, HMC, a Hero Motors Company.