Top 5 mental and physical health benefits of spin classes
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Find out from The Fitness GroupLink opens in a new window, the UK’s leading providers of bespoke fitness education, about the top five mental and physical health benefits you receive from getting your spin on.
Indoor studio cycling has been proven to have health and fitness benefits for everyone across all walks of life. One of the most significant benefits of indoor cycling is the long and short-term impact it has on your cardiovascular systems.
Due to the intense nature of indoor studio cycling, you will often be working your cardiovascular system towards its upper threshold. This means that you are able to promote several positive changes to your cardiovascular system.
When your heart, lungs and circulatory system work hard during exercise, this can lead to a long term reduction in your resting heart rate and an increased aerobic capacity. This means that your heart won’t have to work as hard in order to fulfil its basic function of moving blood containing vital nutrients and oxygen around the body while resting.
You will also be able to normalise and maintain your blood pressure within a healthy range. This is because when you engage in exercise such as cycling at high intensities, the body adapts to this, by growing the heart muscle. You are then able to pump blood around your body with less force being exerted on the walls of your blood vessels and remain fitter and healthier.
Another health benefit of spin is what happens in the brain when you cycle, as your brain gets to work in the first few minutes of starting any spin exercise. Endorphins are almost immediately triggered and they help to mask any aches or pains you’re feeling.
Dopamine is a feeling released during spin as you get the satisfaction of having set a short term time goal and completing it. This is a sensation felt again and again as you achieve each of the mini goals you set for yourself during a spin exercise. It could be staying on the beat of the music for the whole exercise or overcoming a gruelling 60 second uphill at the end of your exercise. The elation you’re feeling is dopamine.
Serotonin is another chemical created in the brain when you begin to overcome the boundaries of your comfort zone and feel the physical and mental health benefits of shattering your own personal fitness goals.
A feeling of “togetherness” and the mutual bond formed with your fellow spin buddies is brought on by Oxytocin. Everyone is going through the same sense of struggle and the accomplishment of completing the class is felt by everyone. You all share the struggle which makes the high of the success that much greater and is another reason why spinning is good for you.
Working out as a group will improve your commitment to the workout, not just for spin, but for all exercise.
No one likes to be highlighted as a “no show” or quitter and this positive peer pressure can spur you on to show up for the workout even on the days you don’t want to. The famous last words of anyone who wasn’t going to go to a fitness class but fought through the temptation are “I’m glad I did that”.
The “Köhler Effect” occurs when a team member performs a difficult task better than you expected from knowing their past performance. This effect perfectly describes the benefits of working out together as you are more likely to push yourself harder by working out alongside people of different abilities.
Just like the feeling of oxytocin, the camaraderie and sense of accountability created through group spin classes will help spur you on to reach new heights both in your physical and mental health.
Muscular endurance & strength
The muscle benefits of indoor cycling are that the push and pull movement of the legs targets all the main sagittal plane prime mover muscles. The hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and glutes are constantly engaged.
Due to the duration of the class and the continual load the leg muscles are subjected to, this builds up the type 1 muscle fibres ability to tolerate tension over time and therefore helps to build and improve muscular endurance in the legs.
However, as the class will also likely have high intensity workloads for short periods, such as 10 second sprints, this also means that the type 2b muscle fibres in the leg muscles are also being used, which helps to build strength and explosive power in the prime movers.
Also some instructors incorporate upper body movements such as press ups on the bike, or an off bike component using small handheld weights which makes these classes more of a full body muscular workout, rather than specifically the leg muscles and cardiovascular system.
Core, posture & co-ordination
The core is in many ways the “unsung hero” of cycling classes. The benefits of spinning is that your core stays actively engaged through the full class to stop you from hunching over the handlebars and keeping a neutral spine.
This overtime will lead to improved posture as the spinal erectors, rhomboids and others will become stronger, which will lead to greater spinal extension which will help lessen bad posture in everyday life.
Many modern group spin classes are rhythm based, meaning that the participants pedal along to the beat of the music. Along with changing riding position, this helps to develop your coordination. Some instructors also bring in upper body movements on the bike to the rhythm such as press ups and twists.
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David Morris Content Contributor, Warwick Sport
David is an avid runner and writes about different aspects of fitness, health and wellbeing. He enjoys running, fitness classes and outdoor activities with his daughters.
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