DR DION O’CUINNEAGAIN is an ex-rugby player who knows a thing or two about staying fit. We caught up with him to find out why cycling is such a rad sport

Post my rugby career, I did not know what I was going to do for exercise. My back injury prevented me from running, a broken nose meant I got sinusitis when I swam. Eventually I took one of my patients Dave Macready’s advice, he suggested I start mountain biking as I was looking a bit porky. I remember the first ride I did was in Tokai forest and they needed to roll out the “Crash Cart” for my resuscitation after 7 km. MTB ticks so many boxes. It gets you out into unbelievable areas of this beautiful country that are difficult to see any other way and allows you to socialize and destress in a way that no other sport does. Often it feels like you are
partof a rugby team as there is such camaraderie amongst riders. Either passing to say hi, encouraging each other on a climb or stopping to aid a fellow rider having a technical! But, more importantly it ticks many health boxes.


MTB riding is easier on your joints. It is less impactful on your joints thus allowing you to exercise longer without wearing out joints and needing a knee or hip replacement. But, you need to stay on the bike and keep the rubber down!


Just 3 hours of mountain biking a week will reduce your chance of heart disease by 50%. That is probably more effective than all the drugs we can prescribe for you.
Mountain biking uses large muscle
groups that require more oxygen.


A study in the European Journal of Epidemiology showed that women who exercise on a bike more than 30 minutes a day have a reduced risk of breast cancer by 48%. Also, people that ride for 30 minutes daily and five times a week are sick 50% less than the normal resting population.


Studies by Mayo Clinic and Kent State University both showed that outdoor activity decreases stress, raises self-esteem and provides people with a sense of challenge and adventure.


Mountain biking exposes you to sunlight which helps the body’s natural circadian rhythm (sleep/ wake cycle), not to mention your body’s vitamin D levels. Besides feeling exhausted and quietly content after your MTB ride, you also get a good night’s rest.


MTB is a whole body work out. It builds fit calves, quads and hamstrings and tightens your butt! But it also involves abdominal and core muscles. Single track and climbing strengthen your upper body. It is also good for your waist line as MTB is a good calorie burn.After an early morning ride with your mates (mine are the Constantia Riders and the Night Riders WhatsApp Groups), seeing the sun rise and having increased your health, there can be nothing nicer than a welldeserved coffee and croissant. I hope this article helps you embrace MTB for the health and socializing aspect. I love the change MTB has made in my health and life as well as in my patients that take up MTB – no personal trainer or gym could give you the same health benefits. I look forward to seeing you on your MTB in 2018 enjoying life and investing in your health!

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