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This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

Inspired by Chris Froome and Sir Bradley Wiggins?

With British cycling riding high, many people are realising the benefits of getting on a bike whatever their age or fitness level
By
WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

It took 99 years of Tour de France history to see a British winner of the Tour de France – then we got two in a row.

Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome have both now won what's seen as the most famous – and the toughest bike race in the world.

The Team Sky riders burn around 6,750 calories a day on every stage of Le Tour and get thorough 10 litres of fluid a day.

Cycling is for anyone

You don't have to be Sir Bradley or Chris Froome to reap the benefits of cycling.

Remember as a child freewheeling down a hill on your bike, the wind in your hair, the exhilaration, the freedom? Well get out your old bike and give it another whirl.

More than three million people in the UK ride a bike each month and it’s getting more popular as a great way to get fit and healthy.

As well as working to Le Tour and Olympic road cycling success, Team Sky's Dave Brailsford is aiming to get an additional one million Britons riding regularly by the end of 2013.

"We're trying to get more people and more kids involved in cycling" he says on Team Sky's website.

"Build the base of the pyramid, encourage participation and make the sport a bit more mainstream than maybe it had been in the past. I'd like to think that we've done our little bit to promote that."

Ian Stannard told BootsWebMD recently: "Hopefully, the success of the team will help make cycling one of Britain's best-known sports."

You don’t have to start out as an athlete when it comes to cycling. Most people can do it, from toddlers to teenagers, to people in their eighties and those with disabilities – with handcycling gaining in popularity.

Cycling is far easier to slot into your everyday life than many other forms of exercise. It has the benefit of getting you from A to B as well, so it could save you money on transport.

For anyone seeking to get involved in road racing, Ian Stannard suggests joining a cycling club - particularly, for younger cyclists, a club involved in British Cycling's Go Ride development programme. "They're great clubs and give you loads of advice, so go and have a look," he says.

Cycling for health

Regular cycling can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

The British Heart Foundation says cycling for 20 miles a week reduces your chance of getting heart disease by a half, compared to those who don’t exercise.

Nick Cavill is public health advisor to Cycling England. He’s looked into the health benefits of cycling.

"If you are a cyclist you’ll live longer as you’ll have reduced cardiovascular disease, it’s better for your lungs and cuts the risk of some cancers."

As a nation we are obese and cycling, like other forms of exercise, is a good way to lose weight.

In 2007 the Government-commissioned Foresight report predicted that if no action was taken 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children would be obese by 2050.

It called for big changes in our nutrition and physical activity.

So cycling could be a great way for you to make that change. The main advantage is you can make it part of your everyday life rather than having to find time to go to the gym or for a swim.

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