The health benefits of cycling include a never-ending list of physical, mental, social, and even environmental improvements that come from bouts of pedaling. As a matter of fact, biking can be an enjoyable leisure activity, form of transportation, means of fresh air, and/or competitive sport for men, women, and children of all ages and athletic abilities. It is also an inexpensive, low-maintenance hobby to start. For all that, it is no wonder that more people are finding ways to incorporate biking into their daily lives.
Read along to learn more about how riding your bike can improve everything from your heart health to your carbon footprint!
1. Improves Mental Well-Being
a. One study showed that people who had a physically active lifestyle had a wellbeing score 32 percent higher than inactive individuals. This improves your overall well-being by releasing adrenaline and endorphins.
b. There is evidence that suggests practicing a motor skill can improve your white brain matter, which is the pathway of cognition, and improve your cognitive strength (Cerebral Cortex">Cerebral Cortex).
c. When scientists studied a group of depressed people taking antidepressants, they found that just 15 minutes of stationary cycling improved their cortisol, or stress hormone, levels.
2. Promotes Weight Loss
a.Cycling burns between 400 and 1000 calories an hour!
b. High-intensity intermittent exercises, such as cycling or running, are the most effective ways to reduce subcutaneous and abdominal fat (Journal of Obesity).
c. Studies show that leisure exercise may not be enough to lose weight, but the combination of bicycle commuting and daily exercise may be enough to help reduce your basal metabolic rate (British Journal of Nutrition).
3.Improves Overall Heart Health
a.A study in the US has shown that regular cycling can cut your risk of heart disease by 50 percent.
b. A recent study by Purdue University suggests that cycling for just 20 minutes a week can reduce your risk of heart disease by a whopping 50 percent.
c. Wondering whether to pedal slow or pick up the pace? A recent study suggests that brisk cycling is more beneficial to the heart then slow cycling (The Copenhagen City Heart Study).
4.Builds Muscle Mass
a.Builds muscle mass particularly around the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. This also helps to improve weight loss as more muscle mass improves the rate at which you burn fat.
b. During the recovery phase of cycling, you use and build the flexor muscles in your hips (Harvard Health).
c. No matter how intense your cycling routine is, you are guaranteed to target the same muscle groups each time you mount your bike (Human Movement).
5.Improves Lung Health
a.A recent study suggests that people who ride a bike are actually exposed to fewer dangerous fumes than those who travel by car.
b. Studies show that riding a bike can improve the way your heart, muscles, and lungs handle oxygen (Bicycling).
c. Cycling can cause you to breathe in more harmful substances, but it can also help you to breathe more harmful substances out (Breathe).
6.Reduces Heart Disease and Cancer Risks
a.Researchers studied over 260,000 individuals over the course of five years and found that cycling to work can cut a riders risk of developing heart disease or cancer in half.
b. Researchers at the University of Glasgow found that commuting by bicycle to work could cut your risk of cancer by 45 percent (CNBC).
c. Commuting by bike reduces carbon emissions and increases air quality. Consequently, bicycle commuting can also reduce one's risk of heart disease and cancer while also improving their overall health (Environmental Health Perspectives). Everybody wins!
a.Biking to short destinations prevents waiting in traffic and improves your carbon footprint.
b. Avoid waiting for and spending money on congested public transportation. Bicycling allows you to travel on your own schedule.
c. Cycling to appointments, lunch dates, or even the gym can help you maximize the time you spend working out and getting fresh air.
8.Improves Your Sex Life
a.Harvard found that men aged over 50 who cycle for at least three hours a week have a 30 percent lower risk of impotence than those who exercise less.
b. Cycling helps work and strengthen several of the same muscle groups used during intercourse.
c. When scientists studied a group of cyclists in New Zealand, they found that high-intensity interval training, such as cycling, boosts sexual performance the most (Cyclist).
9.Improves Sleep Patterns
a.Researchers found that individuals who cycled for around 30 minutes each day fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer.
b. Sleep is a natural booster of human growth hormone, which is a natural performance booster. Therefore, a desire to improve your cycling performance increases your potential for regulating your sleep patterns (Bicycling).
c. A study of over 2,600 people demonstrated that 150 minutes of exercise a week leads to a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality (National Sleep Foundation).
10.Boosts cognitive function
a.Studies show that slight improvements in fitness resulted in improved cognitive skills.
b. A recent study showed a 30 percent increase in cognitive performance and brain activity after utilizing a bike desk (PLOS).
c. Cycling demands a lot of hard work from both the brain and body. Thus, it helps to curb stress, anxiety, and apathy.
11.Improves Awareness and Coordination
a.When cycling the constant checking of surroundings and using of gears and breaks helps improve your overall awareness as well as coordination.
b. A study from researchers at the University of California demonstrated that an increased pedaling rate was directly correlated to an increase in coordination (Journal of Biomechanics).
c. Meanwhile, researchers at Lousiana State University discovered improved lower extremity muscle coordination thanks to cycling (OJS).
12.Easier on Your Joints
a.When you sit on a bike, you put your weight on a pair of bones in the pelvis, unlike running which has a heavy impact on the joints.
b. According to researchers at Harvard, bicycling is up there with swimming on the list of joint-friendly workouts. To that point, it is easier on the knees than running or walking because it is not a weight-bearing exercise (Harvard Health).
c. It is well known that physical inactivity can result in a number of adverse health conditions, including joint diseases (The American Journal of Sports Medicine).
13.Strengthens Your Immune System
a.People who cycle for 30 minutes, 5 times a week take half as many sick days.
b. A separate study by the University of San Diego observed that a mere 20 minutes of exercise a day was enough to boost the body's immune system.
c. While moderate exercise can increase your ability to overcome an illness, rigorous workouts can actually suppress the immune system. Therefore, a modest bike rides may be all it takes to keep a contagious ailment away (Brain, Behavior, and Immunity).
a.Joining a cycling club or group is an excellent way to grow your social circle!
b. Walking or biking greatly increases your chance of social interaction.
c. Cycling offers a wide range of social and economic benefits to communities. This article in the Atlantic even goes so far as to list the many benefits of bicycle-rich cities, which include affluence, happiness, and physical health.
15.Younger Overall Appearance
a.Age damages skin, but studies show that regular exercise can reverse the effects by boosting collagen and upping circulation.
b. Have you thought about your mitochondria today? Researchers have found that bicycling reduces the effects of aging on a cellular level (The Australian).
c. Older adults who maintain an active lifestyle that includes physical exercise are less likely to show signs of aging. In fact, a recent study demonstrated that a group of older recreational cyclists had bodies and minds that were more on par with younger adults than their peers (Average Joe Cyclist).
a.Cycling helps decrease the time it takes food to move through the large intestine, reducing water re-absorbed into the body and leaving you with softer stools, which are easier to pass.
b. Excercise is actually known to increase your gut flora. In turn, many athletes experience improved digestion thanks to there time on a bicycle.
c. Biking directs blood flow toward your muscles rather than your stomach. Subsequently, digestion is often stalled. To help regulate digestion, bikers can opt to follow a nutrient-rich diet and drink plenty of water.
17.Helps You Live Longer
a.Studies found those who did the equivalent of just three 45-minute rides a week were nine years ‘biologically younger’ even after discounting other inﬂuences!
b. A study of 125 cyclists showed that older adults with regular biking habits were able to perform basic physical tasks at the same level as individuals far younger than themselves (Bicycling).
c. Cycling can be used to help keep both body and the mind young.
18.Saves the Planet
a.Biking allows you to travel three times as fast as walking for the same amount of energy and the equivalent of 2,924 miles to the gallon.
b. The average sedan has a carbon footprint that is 10 times greater than the average bicycle (Slate).
c. In most case, riding a bike is better for the environment than driving a car. Just be sure to consider the impact of your diet when calculating your carbon footprint. If the majority of calories you're burning are derived from meat, your biking may have the same effect as a gasoline-fueled car.
19.Promotes an Easier pregnancy
a.Pregnant women who regularly exercise during pregnancy have an easier, less complicated labor, recover faster and are in a better mood for the duration of pregnancy.
b. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists acknowledges the wide range of benefits that cycling has for pregnant women, including improved sleep, mental health, physical health, and labor performance (People for Bikes).
c. Cycling liberates many pregnant women because it is not a weight-bearing exercise. However, slight modifications to bikes, routes, and riding positions may need to be made to accommodate the safety and comfort of a pregnant cyclist.
20.Fights Off Cancer
a.One long-term study found that men who exercised at a moderate level for at least 30 minutes a day were half as likely to develop cancer as those who didn’t.
b. An article in the British Journal of Cancer demonstrated that the more time men spent cycling the less likely they were to develop cancer or spend time recovering from it (NHS Choices).
c. Moderate physical activity helps you regulate the number of calories you consume with the number of calories you use to bypass obesity. What's more, it can help you avoid the 13 obesity-related cancers (Cancer).
21.Improves Your Financial Situation
a.Studies found that a one unit increase in body mass index (BMI) score corresponded to an eight percent reduction in wealth. So losing weight cycling can improve your wealth and health.
b. If you are willing to commute by bike, you can save money on everything from gas to car insurance. What's more, costly car repairs or monthly auto loan bills will not burden you.
c. Why pay for a gym membership when your bike can serve as both a means of transportation and leisure physical activity?
22.Eat More Guilt-Free Foods
a.Salt intake prior to cycling helps improve performance. This gives you the perfect excuse to eat salty foods you might normally avoid.
b. Chocolate milk is the new Gatorade! This frosty beverage has the perfect carb to protein ratio for boosting athletic performances.
c. If you love to carbo-load, cycling may be for you. It turns out that carbohydrates are the optimal nutrient for cycling. However, stuff yourself with whole grains and organic fruits rather than refined carbs and sugars (Cycling Weekly).
a.A study found that just 25 minutes of aerobic exercise boosts at least one measure of creative thinking. The increase of oxygen sparks your neurons and gives you breathing room from the pressures of real life.
b. Cycling boosts the productivity of your brain's grey matter. Therefore, it can increase the output of the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of your brain responsible for creative thought.
c. A series of recent studies demonstrated that being outside enhances a person's vitality. Its only natural that bikers channel that energy into creative thoughts and actions (">Science Direct).
24.Helps Control Diabetes
a.It can be very beneficial in controlling diabetes as the glucose present in the cells is exhausted and the glucose from the blood is drawn in by the cells and converted into useful energy.
b. For prediabetics looking for an approachable exercise platform, biking is easy on the body and can be performed at a variety of intensities. Cycling is also a great way t burn insulin to control your blood sugar.
c. Studies show that moderate exercise can help naturally reduce levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol) and build up levels of HDL (UNM).
25. Helps With Arthritis
a.It has been noted to be one of the best exercises for both preventing and reducing arthritis. Flexing of muscles in the thighs and lower legs that are used during cycling is beneficial to improving arthritis.
b. Unlike running, the repetitive motion of cycling helps lubricate the knees and eliminate the buildup of lactic acid without the added pressure of body weight. For this reason, the American Arthritis Foundation recommends cycling as an exercise solution (Arthritis Foundation).
c. A study on rabbits showed that those who were able to exercise freely didn't develop arthritis, while those that were restricted did (Road).
While we could probably go on writing about the health benefits of biking forever, we hope these last 25 advantages are enough for you to at least consider rescuing that dusty Roadster from the bowels of your garage. Whether you're looking to shed a few pounds, gain some mental clarity, or simply save a few bucks on gasoline, there are bound to be some social, environmental or health benefits of biking that resonates with you. Just remember to always wear a helmet when pedaling toward a healthy future for both you and the planet!