Cycling can be a way to travel, a hobby, or even a preferred exercise activity. We all know that exercising will make you healthier, but choosing the right heart-pumping routine can be difficult.
Ideally, your sport of choice should make you excited about exercising simply because you enjoy the movement. Cycling could become that sport.
You can easily slip your training into your commute to work or de-stress from your day by cycling around your local beauty spots.
Cycling does more than keep you fit, it can boost your health in so many ways. To help you figure out if this hobby is right for you, we will explain all of the benefits of cycling.
15 Health Benefits Of Cycling
As we said before, the most important part of exercising is enjoying it. If you don’t enjoy the movements or interactions, you won’t want to continue with the activity.
The only way to know if you enjoy a sport is to dive into it and see how you feel.
We can’t help with that first part, but we can help you learn how cycling can benefit you. Here are 15 health benefits of cycling.
1. Decreases Stress Levels
Generally speaking, all heart-pumping activities reduce stress. This is because your body produces endorphins when it needs protection from pain.
Exercising is a mild form of pain, so your body releases these hormones to allow you to keep going.
Your body is acting in “hunter mode”, and wants to help you ignore any distractions as you reach your goal. This biological chemical releases a pleasurable feeling.
Endorphins, which are a type of hormone in your body, act as a messenger to tell your body to keep going. To help you keep going, it makes you feel happy.
A 2017 study, published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, wanted to see if this “happy hormone” could produce a less stressed workforce.
They compared workers traveling to work by car, cycling, and public transit.
They concluded that those who cycled were less stressed at work, while those who drove or took the bus had no real difference between them.
This showed that the endorphins produced by cycling were enough to make the workforce less stressed after the activity was committed.
Although happiness and stress are not the same things, when you are active you are more likely to let go of your worries creating a stress-free environment. This in turn makes you happy.
2. Improves Mental Well-Being
If you exercise often, your stress levels will reduce dramatically over time.
This is because your stable level of endorphins will help you manage your stress, creating a healthy mental state to deal with your day-to-day problems.
In 2016, the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) created a report called How Do Humans Flourish. In this study, they sampled 1,000 British adults and asked them to fill out a survey.
They found that the average person would score just 6.13 out of ten on their index for overall well-being.
One of the correlations in the study was the connection between an active lifestyle and a higher than average score on the index.
They found that those with active lifestyles, meaning people who exercised multiple times a week, had an increased score of 13% higher than the average.
They also said that those who weren’t active had a reduced score of 19% lower than the average.
This meant there was a massive gap of 32% in the well-being index between those who were active and those who weren’t. This is a clear indication that exercising often will make you happy.
The reason for this change in emotion is partly to do with the additional hormones making you happy, and partly to do with creating a meditative state and becoming confident in your body.
When you exercise, your mind starts to focus on your body. It is present in the here and now, as you focus on your movements.
It also allows you to let go of your worries as you focus on your body. This type of mental practice is very similar to meditation.
As you become aware of your body and learn how to use it to power through a struggle, you will become more confident in yourself.
You will notice how your body is changing due to your hard efforts, and this change is a physical representation of your ability to take on new challenges.
3. Improved Joint Mobility
So far we have been talking about exercising in general, but now we want to showcase why cycling is beneficial for your health.
One of the best aspects of cycling is its low impact. A low impact sport is something that doesn’t put a lot of weight on your joints.
This allows you to train your knees and improve your muscles around your knees without the weight of your body to contend with.
With less weight on your muscles, they can focus on movement, and after a while, you will notice less joint pain as they become easier to move.
If you are someone who struggles with joint pain, you should opt for a recumbent bike. These are bikes that you cycle while sitting in a reclined position.
Due to this position, you will be able to cycle without putting strain on the rest of your body, and you will be cycling in a motion that feels more natural.
This natural sitting position will improve your flexibility as you will achieve a larger range of movement.
4. Muscle Strength
When you cycle you are working out muscles all across the body. It isn’t just a leg workout, it’s a full body workout.
The main areas you will be engaging are your glutes (your bottom), your core (your abs), biceps (arms), triceps (arms), quadriceps (thighs), calves, and hamstrings.
Your glutes are engaged in the activity as they are needed to keep your pelvis aligned and stable. They also help you rotate your hips to stay balanced.
Your core is another stabilizing muscle that needs to be active to stop you from falling off your bike. When you’re cycling with your core engaged, you will reduce any back pain received through cycling.
This is because your weight will be evenly distributed. Your biceps and triceps help with balance too, but they are also needed for direction.
When you’re standing on your bike, you are leaning forward (engaging your core) and leaning on your arms. Your arms need to hold you up and give you the flexibility to duck or move.
When you move, they also become engaged to help you stay balanced with a turned handle.
Your quadriceps are the force behind your pedaling. They give you the most pedal power as you push down with your legs.
Your calves help keep your feet aligned with your body, to stop them from being pushed too far by your quadriceps.
And lastly, your hamstrings help keep your knees in a semi-flexing position as they move up and down.
With a flexible hamstring, you can endure longer cycling sessions as they both produce force to push down the pedal and create a spring-like bounce to pull your leg back up.
All of this activity will strengthen your muscles over time. Every muscle is engaged in this activity to create a full-body workout.
5. Reduces Anxiety Levels
Although we have already talked about stress, we want to take another look into how hormones affect your mood – this time focusing on anxiety.
When we exercise a lot, we reduce the amount of cortisol in our bodies. Cortisol is a hormone linked to anxiety and insomnia. With less of this hormone in your body, your mood switches from anxious to relaxed.
When you exercise often, this change will also happen to your sleep as the cortisol hormone is no longer blocking your ability to “switch off”.
Cycling is particularly great for reducing cortisol levels as you can take on the exercise for a whole day without becoming physically overwhelmed.
For example, you might cycle across a beautiful part of the countryside for the day, taking breaks for food but mostly going at your own pace.
Because you can cycle to get from A to B, to simply exercise, or as a hobby in itself, you can choose to have social or solitary moments with your bike.
6. Improves Posture
To stop your back from developing pain during the cycling process, you need to have good posture. To do this you need to sit with a neutral spine, which means it shouldn’t be rounded or arched.
Your shoulders should also be down and pushed back, creating a straight back. Otherwise, they may end up bunching up toward your ears.
When you’re in this posture, your muscles can work effectively, and hold your body with more ease.
It can take some time to get this posture correct, but once you do, you’ll notice your muscles becoming stronger. As they get stronger, it will be easier to keep your posture correct.
In a positive spiral, the stronger you become, the better your posture will be. The better your posture is, the stronger you will become.
Developing this posture isn’t difficult, and you’ll naturally notice the need to keep your back straight as you cycle.
However, if you’re struggling to find that balance without losing the balance of your bike, you can opt for a stationary version to help you get started.
In a 2014 study by Chae-Woo Lee and Gyerong-Hee Cho, they asked elderly women to use stationary bikes to help them reduce the risk of falling.
Falling is a common issue in the elderly, however, the study showed that using stationary bikes helped the women to improve their impaired balance.
This means that using a stationary bike can help you strengthen your balance which often affects your posture..
7. Strengthens Bones
Generally speaking, cycling can help older people avoid thinning bones. Bones are made up of different collagens and proteins which help create stiff minerals. These minerals are called phosphate and calcium.
With the right balance, your bones will be solid enough to keep your skeleton stiff, while also being light enough to stay mobile and flexible.
If the balance isn’t right, your bones can become brittle after an impact due to a lack of flexibility.
Your bones aren’t just a solid piece of material. Instead, the minerals that make up bones will be stored, reabsorbed into the body, and then stored again later in a cycle.
The calcium is used to help send messages throughout the body, and to help release hormones that allow your body to function properly.
However, when we exercise we lose a lot of calcium, as it comes out in our sweat. You can replace this calcium by eating a lot of dairy products before you exercise.
To help get that calcium back to your bones and not add to your body’s deposits, you need to invoke weight-bearing exercises.
This will make your body aware that your bones need to be stronger, to handle these weight changes.
The best way to strengthen your bones is to add weight training exercises to your daily routine. When it comes to cycling we suggest confusing 1000 mg of calcium right before you start your exercise.
8. Strengthen Immune System
A study by David Nieman in 1997 titled “Immune response to heavy exertion” asked 1,000 adults, no older than 85, to exercise while he monitors their respiratory systems.
He found that people who exercised were increasing their production of protein more effectively.
This allowed them to have a stronger immune system which gave them a quicker recovery rate from the common cold which was introduced to them in the study.
Tim Noakes created similar results in his research paper in 1993 titled “Vitamin C supplementation reduces the incidence of postrace symptoms of upper-respiratory-tract infection in ultramarathon runners”.
This paper, although based on runners, found that even a mild form of exercise can improve your immune system.
However, Noakes also found that right after the exercise has been performed, your immune system is lower than normal. This is because your body is going into recovery from the exercise itself.
This is why eating healthily, drinking water, and allowing for 8 hours of sleep after a day of exercise is essential while your body is repairing itself from your activities.
Looking at how cycling can strengthen your body overall, you simply need to read through this 2017 study. It shows that if you cycle regularly, your risk of death (from all causes researched) will be reduced by 40%.
When you look specifically at cancer and heart disease that figure rises to 45%.
9. Prevents Heart Disease
Heart disease is one of the main reasons why middle-aged people start looking into cycling. As we get older, we become more aware of our body’s needs.
From our previous heading we mentioned that developing heart disease is reduced by 45% when you cycle. The reason for this reduction is the lower levels of cholesterol.
As your body is pumping blood around your body, it can flush away the bad cholesterol such as LDL, and increase the amount of good cholesterol such as HDL.
This means your blood pressure will be lowered, and your body doesn’t need to try as hard to pump blood around your system.
As you complete aerobic exercises, your body will be burning calories. We will talk more about how this relates to weight loss later, but right now we will focus on how this affects cardiovascular diseases.
With less fat in your blood and less fat in your body, your heart doesn’t need to strain itself to get your blood where it needs to go.
With less stress on your major organ, you are less likely to damage your heart. Again, this means a lower likelihood of heart disease.
If you don’t have enough time to cycle for long periods, you could join a HIIT class that helps reach the same blood-pumping goal.
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, which forces you into large bursts of high adrenaline workouts with short rests in between.
It aims to get your blood pumping quickly to kick your heart into action for 10 minutes a day, instead of hours on a peaceful ride.
10. Improves Coordination Skills
Coordination is when you complete two or more complex activities at once. When you’re cycling you need to pedal, steer and look where you are going, all at the same time.
All of these activities are constantly changing. As one foot pedals first and then the next foot makes its movement, you also need to be aware of which way you are going.
If there are any obstacles in your path, you will need to coordinate your feet, arms, and eyes to avoid a collision.
For some people, the idea of these coordination skills might seem simplistic, but there is a reason why learning to ride a bike takes some time to get used to.
If you struggle with coordination, you may find that learning how to ride a bike can give you the mental exercise you need.
Other people find that riding a bike helps them prepare for other coordination-based tasks.
If you have a sporting evening coming up, a challenging physical test, or anything else that requires multiple motor skills at once, this hobby can help you control your body.
If learning motor skills is difficult for you, you may prefer to start your journey on a stationary bike.
This way you only need to focus on pedaling. Then when you start feeling confident, you could watch a show in front of the bike and try to identify as many items on the screen.
This can help you balance pedaling with finding hazards. Once you’re happy with your progress, cycle outside to add steering to the complex skill.
11. Increases Navigational Skills
If you choose to cycle outside, your navigation skills will improve.
When you drive in a car, you have to learn about the signs that direct you where you’re going, but it can be easy to follow the other cars around you and still end up where you need to be.
With cycling, you are unlikely to follow another cyclist which means you have to navigate your path on your own. Depending on how rural your cycle route is, there may not be any signs either.
This means you will need to use landmarks to find your way, and understand the path you have taken and the direction you need to go.
Looking at a map, you may realize that your cycle path needs to go straight, turn left at a gate, and then right past a collection of houses.
When you take the route, the outline may not be as obvious as it was on your phone, and you may have to find a new pathway due to disruptions.
In these circumstances, you have to know where you are going and the best ways to get to your destination.
After a couple of tries, your navigation skills will be more instinctive and you become aware of where you have come from, where you are going, and the local paths you can take to get there.
12. Weight Loss
If you cycle for 30 minutes at a moderate speed of 13 miles per hour, then you will burn approximately 298 calories. If you cycle faster, at 15 miles per hour, that number will jump to 372.
The faster you cycle and the longer you cycle, the more calories you will use up. The more calories you burn, the more weight you will lose.
However, a Harvard article suggests that cycling indoors produces less weight loss than cycling outdoors.
This is because you aren’t using as many muscles to keep yourself upright, and your brain power is utilized as you don’t need to worry about hazards.
If you weigh 125 pounds, then a 30-minute stationary bike ride of around 13 miles per hour will burn 210 calories. If you weigh 155 pounds that jumps to 260.
If you do the same time frame and speed outdoors, then a 125-pound person would burn 240 calories and a 155-pound person would burn 298.
You can push these numbers even higher by moving from tarmac or a clear road to a mountain range or BMX biking challenge.
With the same parameters, a cyclist with these more challenging pathways will burn 255 calories if they weigh 125 pounds or 316 calories if they weigh 155 pounds.
These figures are an estimate, but knowing this you can adjust your timetable to allow for at least 30 minutes of cycling a day to achieve a steady calorie deficit.
And if you overindulge during the week, you can change your schedule to fit in more time appropriate to the excess eating.
13. Improves Lung Health
There are two reasons why cycling is great for your lungs.
The first is because you ingest less dangerous fumes when you cycle in comparison to when you drive in a car, and the second is due to your lungs growing capacity to take in oxygen.
A 2011 study compared the amount of air pollution around the driver’s seat of a bus, a bus user, a cyclist, and a pedestrian traveling through central London.
Cyclists and pedestrians were expected to receive a higher air pollution count, however, the driver of the bus experienced the most.
The driver experienced 5 times more pollution than the cyclist and 3.5 times more than the walker. The bus users were recorded as the second most polluted, reaching 2.5 levels less than the bus driver.
This showed that cycling is the cleanest way to travel through cities. When you cycle you take deep breaths to stabilize your heart’s rhythm and keep oxygen entering your body.
The more oxygen you have in your blood, the more stamina you have to exercise.
Imagine an elastic band, the more you stretch it the less resistance you receive.
When you’ve been cycling for a while, your lungs will be able to retain more oxygen for longer, giving you more breathing capacity and a healthier respiratory system.
14. Reduces Risk Of Diseases
According to the World Health Organization, lack of exercise is linked to over 3.2 million deaths a year. Most of these deaths come from diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and organ failure.
Any type of exercise can reduce your likelihood of disease, but cycling is arguably the easiest. This is because you can swap your car for your bike without making any other changes in your routine.
In 1991, 2001, and 2011 the English and Welsh governments conducted a Census survey to gather information about the population.
Over 300,000 people from the two countries stated that they used a vehicle to get to and from work.
These same people were asked to complete another survey throughout the next 25 years to see if any would develop or die from heart disease or cancer.
From these two experiments, they found that people who drove to work were the most likely to die in general.
Those that took the train were less likely to develop a deadly disease than those who drove. The information on cycling and walking was the most important.
They found that those who cycled to work were 20% less likely to die from any cause, 24% less likely to die from heart disease, and 16% less likely to die from cancer.
In comparison to those who walked to work, these participants were also less likely to be diagnosed with cancer, however, the drop was only by 7%.
This showed that physical exercise that raises your heart rate is needed to avoid diseases.
Swapping your morning commute to a bike ride will help you reduce the risk of any death, including diseases such as cancer or heart disease.
15. Improves Spatial Awareness
Spatial awareness is when you become aware of your surroundings, and your body’s position to objects around you. For example, look at an object in front of you, without moving your arm, you should be aware if this object is in arm’s reach or not.
This is your spatial awareness coming into effect. Without testing your hypothesis, you can conclude how far away an object is.
When you’re cycling, you can use that spatial awareness to understand movement and time.
For example, when you have traveled a path many times before, you can judge by your own speed how quickly you can reach your destination.
You can then use this estimation to understand how much energy you need to put into pedaling to get to your destination on time.
When your special awareness becomes more refined, you will be able to use this skill when you travel paths you haven’t been on before.
You will be able to roughly judge how long it will take you to arrive at a visible location.
If someone finds it hard to point at a location they can see or hear, they find it hard to pinpoint where their previous destination was, or cannot follow directions, then this suggests they have a spatial awareness deficiency.
This can develop from lack of use or health conditions such as partial blindness, ASD, dyspraxia, or Parkinson’s disease.
If you notice a family member or loved one is struggling with their spatial awareness, you could recommend a paired cycling journey to help them develop this skill naturally.
Exercising, in general, is very important for your health. It reduces your likelihood of developing a disease, decreases your stress and anxiety, and overall improves your health.
Cycling is one of the easiest ways to get that exercise into your daily routine. You can swap driving to work to cycling to work, which means you don’t need to try and find time to get your workout into your routine.
Cycling is also great for working out every area of your body. This means you don’t need to create a different workout every week, to try and balance your exercise.
In the end, you will receive a healthier body and healthier mind, along with unexpected perks such as improved spatial awareness and coordination.
As much as I remember, I started cycling when I was 5 years old. So I got to know that the passion for riding it runs through my blood but buying the right bicycling equipment and trustworthy information is another story. Always betrayed by sellers and even by friends so I decided to revolutionize it. When choosing bicycling products, I evaluate user’s experiences, different forum discussions, and other social media debates. I do in-depth research on every topic I publish to share with you the most valuable and trustworthy information. Read more about the way I choose the best cycling products and my transformation journey from riding it as a hobby to becoming my passion.