Cycling, also known as biking or bicycling, involves the use of bicycles for exercise, sport or transport. Bicycling started to get popular in the 1860s. The top 5 health benefits of riding a bike include helping with weight loss, increasing muscle strength, flexibility, and stamina, enhancing balance, posture, and coordination, improving joint mobility and fortifying bones, and promoting better lung health.
Riding a bike improves physical conditions, and helps with psychological issues such as boosting mental health and brainpower, easing anxiety and depression, and improving sleep quality. Bicycling plays a big role in the environmental industry by reducing carbon footprint. Studies indicate that approximately 42% of the global population engages in cycling at varying frequencies, showcasing its wide acceptance and application.
As a full-body engagement activity, cycling primarily recruits muscles in the legs, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, and engages the core and back muscles for stability. Exercise with a bike promotes respiratory efficiency and increased lung capacity.
Cycling is a low-impact recreation and easy to exercise for anyone. According to the study from the Journal of Transport & Health from December 2015 by Gathering data from 150 countries, it reveals that 42% of global households own at least one bicycle, amounting to a minimum of 580 million privately owned bicycles. Ownership rates range from 20% to 81%, with Northern Europe having the highest and parts of Africa and Central Asia the lowest.
As a result, questions arise regarding what’s the benefits of biking outdoors, the benefits of indoor bike exercise, what muscles biking works, how many calories biking burns, whether is biking better than running and how much cycling is too much. In this article, we will evaluate the 20 health cycling benefits shown in this infographic.
Table of Contents
The 20 health benefits of cycling are listed below.
- Helps for Weight Loss
- Increases muscle strength, flexibility, and stamina
- Enhances balance, posture, and coordination
- Improves joint mobility and fortifies bone
- Promotes better lung health
- Boosts your immune system
- Strengthens your defense against cardiovascular disease and cancer
- Alleviates feelings of fatigue
- Elevates your sexual well-being
- Helps with pregnancy
- Extends your lifespan
- Boosts mental health and brainpower
- Helps against anxiety and depression
- Improves sleep quality
- Expands your social circle through cycling
- Heightens special awareness and creativity
- Saves valuable time with cycling
- Fosters quality family moment
- Allows you to indulge in guilt-free snacks after a ride.
- Minimizes your carbon footprint
Helps for Weight Loss
Weight loss is the reduction of total body mass resulting from a decrease in body fat level and lean mass. Biking helps with weight loss because it demands the engagement of large muscle groups like the core, back, and particularly the lower body, which leads to burning a good amount of calories.
How Does Cycling Help in Weight Loss? Riding a bike, especially at high intensity can greatly reduce body fat levels. Combining both sprint and strength training while cycling can help build muscle, which raises the metabolic rate. This increase in metabolism helps the body continue to burn fat even when you rest. “How to lose weight through cycling” is a topic that many health professionals are concerned about. When combined with a healthy eating plan, cycling proves to be a potent tool for obesity and weight control.
Research from leading health institutions shows cycling can burn between 400-1000 calories per hour, depending on the intensity. While Professor Chris Oliver from The University of Edinburgh in the Cycle Friendly Scotland Conference in 2015 mentioned “Steady cycling burns about 300 calories per hour. If you cycle twice a day, the calories burnt soon add up. Half-hour bike ride every day will burn nearly five kilograms of fat over a year.” Incorporating fast intervals into cycling routines can significantly boost V02 Max, enhancing endurance. The same research noted that regular cycling can help establish fat-burning zones, making the body more efficient at using fat as fuel.
“Is cycling good for weight loss?” Yes, cycling is good for weight loss, moreover, it can lead to an improvement in various physical performance types. Simply put, cycling burns calories. However, to maintain performance and energy, it’s crucial to consume the right kind of fuel and refuel adequately. A calorie deficit while ensuring a healthy diet is necessary if you want to gain more weight reduction.
Increases muscle strength, flexibility and stamina
Cycling increases muscle strength, flexibility, and stamina because it mainly engages the lower body muscles, particularly the leg muscles, without overstressing the joints. Stamina is the ability of an individual to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort.
Riding a bike involves the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, offering a workout similar to weightlifting exercises like squats and leg presses. The consistent resistance faced while pedaling helps burn fat and build muscle, especially around the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves, making cycling excellent for lower-body strengthening.
In a study from NeuroRehabilitation in 2013, 128 participants with chronic stroke were split into two groups: one underwent 12 weeks of progressive aerobic cycling training (5 times a week), while the other acted as a control group. The results showed that the cycling training significantly improved peak VO2, heart rate recovery (HRR), muscle strength, and the distance covered in a 6-minute walking test (6MWD) for the participants in the training group.
When we increase the frequency and intensity of our cycling sessions, our muscle flexibility and stamina amplify. Biking exercises like lunges challenge both strength and aerobic fitness, ensuring a toned derriere and robust legs, thus helping to build our muscles consistently.
Enhances balance, posture, and coordination
Biking enhances balance, posture, and coordination because it requires individuals to stabilize their bodies in an upright position while continuously adjusting to the bike’s motion.
Maintaining an upright position on a bicycle demands core engagement and trains the body for improved posture: keeping a neutral spine and a solid stance is essential. Biking exercise helps counteract poor posture and reinforces a strong core, providing a beneficial secondary ab workout.
On the other hand, the movement of pedaling, especially when adhering to rhythm-based cycling or following choreography to a beat, boosts coordination. As individuals age, such improvements in balance and coordination are invaluable, helping to prevent falls and fractures, decrease the risk of injury, and ensure activities remain uninterrupted by sideline setbacks.
A study from the Journal of Neurophysiology in 2018 evaluated the effects of 5 weeks of arm cycling training on people who had suffered from a stroke. Results indicated that the training strengthened grip in both hands and improved force in plantarflexion, aided in better muscle activation during walking, and “normalized” reflex modulation during arm cycling. Essentially, the rhythmic movement of arm cycling seemed to foster increased connectivity between the arms and legs. These findings suggest that cycling, which engages both arms and legs, can be an effective rehabilitation tool for enhancing walking, balance, and coordination after neurotrauma such as stroke.
Improves joint mobility and fortifies bones
Cycling improves joint mobility and fortifies bones because it offers a low-impact workout that exercises major muscles without overstressing joints.
In the context of joint mobility, biking is a gentler alternative compared to running, which can lead to more muscle damage, inflammation, and overuse injuries. Cycling facilitates smoother movement of the joints in the lower body, notably the knees, hips, and ankles, reducing overall stiffness and concerns of joint wear. Cycling’s low-impact nature ensures a reduced risk of injury and makes it an ideal mode of exercise, especially for people who are recovering from injuries or suffering from conditions like arthritis.
A 2020 years research “Stationary cycling exercise for knee osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis” from Clinical Rehabilitation gives the conclusion “Stationary cycling exercise relieves pain and improves sports function in individuals with knee osteoarthritis”
Regarding bone fortification, it’s essential to note that cycling, while being low-impact, isn’t the most effective weight-bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercises play a crucial role in enhancing bone density. While cycling might not directly improve bone density like strength training or weightlifting, it contributes to overall fitness. Regular cycling can lead to increased muscle strength around critical bone areas, which indirectly can help in preventing falls and fractures. However, those concerned about osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease, should consider complementing cycling with weight-bearing exercises, given that cycling alone may not suffice.
Promotes better lung health
Cycling promotes better lung health because it encourages the cyclist to take in more oxygen. The biking workout strengthens your cardiovascular system, which involves both the heart and lungs working in tandem. As cyclists inhale healthy air, their lungs efficiently use the increased oxygen supply to support physical exertion.
Despite the misconception that cyclists might be exposed to more air pollution, a study video interviewed by Dr. Bean Barratt, King’s College London has shown that pedestrians, taxi passengers, and even drivers can ingest more dangerous fumes and ultrafine particles than cyclists.
When cycling, particularly in less congested areas, riders often have access to cleaner air, reducing the risk of inhaling air pollutants. This minimizes the exposure of the lungs to these harmful particles, preventing lungs and damaged cells.
Boosts your immune system
Cycling boosts your immune system by promoting the production and activity of immune cells, which are pivotal in fighting off infections. The immune system is the body’s defense mechanism against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. It’s composed of a network of cells and proteins that work together to neutralize harmful pathogens. Positive factors that strengthen the immune system include a balanced diet, regular exercise like biking, and sufficient rest.
Moderate exercises like cycling can wake up white blood cells, which are key players in the body’s immune response. These cells become more active during and after exercise, making the body more vigilant against potential infections. Meanwhile, cycling aerobically, whether it’s cycling to work or interval training, can stimulate the production of proteins that improve immune function.
A study by J.Scharhag from the British Journal of Sports Medicine investigated the impact of a 4-hour cycling session at 70% of the individual anaerobic threshold on immune cell function, concluding that a typical road cycling training has only a moderate effect on the immune system and is immunologically safe.
Mild exercise, such as a leisurely bike ride, has been linked to a reduced risk of issues like upper respiratory system infections. On the other hand, it’s important to balance intense cycling with adequate recovery time. Without proper recovery after cycling, the immune system can be compromised, so it’s crucial to strike a balance to ensure the immune system benefits.
Strengthens your defense against cardiovascular disease and cancer
Cycling strengthens your defense against cardiovascular disease and cancer primarily by promoting cardiovascular function, improving fitness levels, and facilitating cellular health. Engaging in this activity can significantly lower the risk of these two prevalent diseases.
Cardiovascular disease encompasses a range of conditions related to the heart and blood vessels, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Examples include heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure. Cancer, on the other hand, is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. Common examples are breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.
Cycling can raise the heart rate, thereby improving heart, lungs, and circulation. Biking exercise strengthens heart muscles, results in a lower resting pulse, and reduces blood fat levels. Such benefits lower the physiological risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases, including Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and physical inactivity. The Diet, Cancer and Health cohort study among Danish adults indicates a consistent link between cycling duration and a reduced risk of T2D (Type 2 Diabetes). Specifically, engaging in over 300 minutes of total cycling per week or commuter cycling for over 150 minutes weekly resulted in a 20-30% reduction in T2D risk. Notably, even late-life initiation of cycling exhibited a significant 29% risk reduction.
By integrating cycling, such as cycling to work or engaging in HIIT (high-intensity interval training), people can enhance their aerobic capacity and improve their VO2 max, which is pivotal in cardiovascular health.
Regular cycling can help keep cells in working order to reduce the risk of cancer. By helping to burn calories, it combats being overweight, a notable risk factor for both heart disease and cancer. Moderate forms of exercise, including cycling, have been linked to a reduced risk of colon and breast cancer. For instance, it’s suggested that the chance of bowel cancer is reduced by cycling, and staying lean and fit can further decrease the risk of cancers, including breast cancer.
Cycling’s ability to improve cholesterol levels, specifically boosting HDL(High-Density Lipoprotein) while lowering LDL(Low-Density Lipoprotein) and triglyceride levels, further bolsters cardiovascular health. This can lead to a decreased chance of both stroke and heart attack. For those recovering from cancer, staying active through cycling can mitigate side effects like fatigue and pain. However, always consult with a care team and listen to your body during any physical activity, especially during recovery.
Alleviates feelings of fatigue
Cycling alleviates feelings of fatigue because it acts as a catalyst to boost circulation and metabolism levels, rejuvenating one’s sense of energy and wakefulness.
Research “Effect of body tilt angle on fatigue and EMG activities in lower limbs during cycling” from the European Journal of Applied Physiology 2010 came to the conclusion, that “Results show that fatigue is significantly greater during supine compared with upright high-intensity cycling and this effect is accompanied by a reduced activation of musculature that is active during cycling.”
Engaging in cycling every day, especially in the early hours offers a positive start to your morning. Opting for fast morning rides, even at low intensity, can burn fat and enhance endurance performance. Biking regularly can help lower fatigue levels and replace feelings of low energy with a refreshed state of mind.
For casual bikers, incorporating cycling into daily habits encourages the inclination towards other healthy positive choices. When one begins their day with an activity that uplifts their physical state, it sets a tone of proactiveness, effectively alleviating feelings of fatigue and propelling them to tackle the day with vigor.
Elevates your sexual well-being
Cycling elevates your sexual well-being because it directly promotes vascular health, which plays a pivotal role in boosting sex drive and overall sexual prowess.
Biking regularly can build essential muscle groups and enhance overall health, both of which can lead to increased sexual stamina and reduced arousal problems. Studies have indicated that men who cycle regularly show a lower risk of impotence, underscoring the benefits of maintaining vascular well-being.
For women, consistent cycling has been linked to a potential delay in menopause onset. Urologists are keen to highlight the connection between regular sex and improved physical health, making cycling an attractive, holistic approach to boosting one’s sexual vitality.
Research from American Urological Association (AUA) In studies surveying both male and female athletes, researchers found no substantial link between cycling and sexual or urinary dysfunction. Among 4,000 male athletes, cyclists had no worse erectile function than non-cyclists, with some reporting perineal numbness. For the 2,691 female participants, cycling did not significantly impact their sexual or urinary functions, though high-intensity female cyclists noted an increased risk of perineal numbness and saddle sores. Dr. McVary emphasized that the public can enjoy cycling’s cardiovascular benefits without concern for urologic disease or sexual dysfunction.
Helps with pregnancy
Cycling helps with pregnancy because it offers a gentle form of exercise that conditions the mum, ensuring she remains active and fit.
A study “Exercise during pregnancy and pregnancy outcome” from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise suggests “that participation in aerobic exercise during pregnancy at a level great enough to produce or maintain a training effect does not adversely affect birthweight or other maternal and infant outcomes but may be associated temporally with fewer perceived pregnancy-associated discomforts.”
Another study by J. Gavard and R. Artal from Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology shares a similar conclusion, which shows that exercise during pregnancy may reduce maternal and fetal health risks, limit weight gain, and enhance cardiovascular fitness, making pregnancy an optimal time for positive behavioral changes.
Cycling while pregnant can lead to a better mood due to the release of endorphins, which can be beneficial for both the mother and the fetus. Staying active through cycling can aid in preparing the body for labor and might help mothers recover faster post-delivery.
Extends your lifespan
Cycling extends your lifespan because it makes the body biologically younger, fostering the ability to regenerate new cells. This rejuvenating effect offers a shield against the natural aging process.
Riding the bike on a regular base can mitigate factors that curtail lifespan, such as obesity and elevated blood pressure. An active lifestyle that incorporates cycling can counterbalance the detrimental impacts of habits like smoking.
Research from The British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2019 shows that engaging in 1 to 60 minutes of cycling weekly has been linked to a reduced risk of all-cause mortality, with recreational and commuter cycling having hazard ratios of 0.76 and 0.78, respectively. Initiating cycling in mid-life carries a hazard ratio of 0.78, and consistent cycling stands at 0.77, implying a decreased mortality risk in both cases. This suggests that governments should promote cycling as it provides significant health benefits, especially when initiated or maintained during the later stages of mid-life.
Consistent cycling aids in managing a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). Maintaining a balanced BMI is crucial in sidestepping health conditions like obesity, thereby ensuring a longer, healthier life.
Boosts mental health and brainpower
Cycling Boosts mental health and brainpower because it provides a unique combination of physical activity, outdoor exploration, and concentration. This produces profound benefits for both the mind and brain.
Biking can ease feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety as we mentioned. The physical exertion of cycling releases endorphins and adrenaline, known as “happy hormones”, which play a key role in boosting mood and alleviating negative emotions. Recreation outdoors and exploring new routes help to ease stress, providing a natural way to combat feelings of lethargy and listlessness.
In a study (from PLoS One) of 100 participants aged 50–83, both conventional and e-bike cyclists exhibited improved executive function after an eight-week cycling intervention, compared to non-cycling controls, with e-bikers showing enhancements in processing speed and mental health scores. The similar or even larger benefits observed in e-bike users suggest that environmental engagement, and not just physical activity, plays a significant role in these improvements.
Cycling boosts brain power by enhancing cognitive functioning, especially in older adults. The increased blood flow to the brain during a cardio session powers up the grey matter and shows the potential of reducing cognitive changes associated with ailments like dementia. This heightened blood flow, combined with the release of endorphins, results in improved executive functions and better emotional processing, paving the way for a sharper and more resilient mind.
Helps against anxiety and depression
Cycling helps against anxiety and depression because it naturally reduces stress levels and promotes a sense of well-being. Riding a bike(either as recreation or commute to work) allows us to combat mental conditions like stress, depression, and anxiety through the positive effects of exercise. Cycling brings enjoyment and acts as a therapeutic escape from daily pressures.
Choosing bike exercise before work or during lunchtime can enhance our mood, leading to improved time and workload management throughout the day. Biking boosts motivation and strengthens our ability to deal with stress and enhances interpersonal performance. People who bike to work consistently experience mood boosts, leading to a lower risk of stress, anxiety, and depression.
According to a study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, which aimed to systematically analyze the impact of mind–body exercises on anxiety and depression in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Data were sourced from Chinese and English databases, and 13 randomized controlled trials (RCT) published from January 1982 to June 2019 were included in the meta-analysis. The results demonstrated that mind–body exercises (like tai chi, health qigong, and yoga) significantly benefited COPD patients with anxiety and depression. Specifically, for anxiety, health qigong or yoga sessions of 30–60 minutes over 24 weeks significantly affected patients older than 70 with a disease duration over 10 years. For depression, health qigong practiced 2-3 times a week, 30-60 minutes each time, significantly affected patients over 70 years with a disease duration under 10 years. In conclusion, mind–body exercises can decrease anxiety and depression levels in COPD patients, though further robust RCTs are needed.
Improves sleep quality
Cycling improves sleep quality because it promotes cardiorespiratory fitness and aids in the reduction of anxiety, factors both linked to better sleep. Sleep quality refers to the efficiency, duration, and consistency of one’s sleep patterns, ensuring one feels rested and restored upon waking.
Bicycling can help redress the imbalance caused by spikes in the hormone cortisol, often associated with stress, which can disrupt sleep. Regular cycling can protect against weight gain with age, further alleviating potential sleep dysfunction. So exercise on a bike in your daily routine can lead to more restful and effective sleep cycles.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials from the Journal of Physiotherapy, six trials, involving 305 participants (241 female), were analyzed. These studies utilized moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or high-intensity resistance exercise programs(such as biking) lasting between 10 and 16 weeks, with sleep quality assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Results indicated that exercise has a moderately positive effect on sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults, suggesting it could complement or serve as an alternative to traditional sleep therapies.
Expand your social circle through cycling
Expand your social circle through cycling because it fosters community and shared experiences. Cycling in a group allows you to enjoy collective rides and promotes bonding during moments like stopping at a cafe or helping with a puncture. Such shared activities can release the hormone oxytocin, often associated with friendship, which can lead to reduced blood pressure and a stronger immune system.
The rise in U.S. cycling has seen a diversification and positive effect on cyclists. A study from the Journal of Planning Education and Research revealed that while both perceptions of cycling and social connections with cyclists influence one’s decision to cycle, these factors are more significant for immigrants than U.S.-born residents.
Heightens spatial awareness and creativity
Cycling heightens spatial awareness and creativity because aerobic exercise accelerates breath and heart rate, stimulating the contraction of intestinal muscles. This process can decrease the time food spends in the large intestine, limiting water reabsorption, and resulting in softer stools that are easier to pass, as noted by gastroenterologists.
Biking can solve mental blocks by increasing the flow of oxygen to grey matter, sparking your neurons, and enhancing cognitive functions like spatial understanding and creative thinking, especially during activities like climbing, descending, and cornering either outdoors or in online platforms like Zwift.
A study by Timothy Peter Moss(University of the West of England, Bristol) and Susan Lowery (Maryville University) believed physical exercise has been linked to enhanced positive mood and, occasionally, creative thinking, though the evidence is mixed. This study explored if post-exercise creativity boosts were due to improved mood by comparing the effects of aerobic activities to video watching on 63 participants. While exercise significantly improved positive mood and creativity in flexibility, the two improvements appeared to be independent, suggesting that exercise benefits both aspects separately.
Saves valuable time with cycling
Cycling saves valuable time because it often allows for more direct routes and avoids typical vehicular traffic. For short journeys like commuting to work or 10-20 minutes of recreation, choosing biking can be quicker than being stuck in morning or evening traffic or waiting for public transport. The flexibility to park nearly anywhere makes the door-to-door journey time often faster on a cycle than by car.
If you live in a big city, usually biking to work takes less time than via public transport or by car. Not to mention biking maps and paths are developed especially for urban life.
Fosters quality family moments
Cycling fosters quality family moments because it offers a shared activity that can be enjoyed by all ages. Participating in physical activities together strengthens the bond between family members and promotes healthy habits. Whether it’s leisurely rides in the park or more adventurous trips like backpacking, cycling creates long-lasting memories.
The importance of family time cannot be overstated. Sharing experiences and creating memories during childhood can have a profound impact on an individual’s emotional well-being and can be cherished for a lifetime. Cycling, with its ability to cater to various skill levels and interests, becomes an avenue for families to connect, communicate, and capture moments that last forever.
Allows you to indulge in guilt-free snacks after a ride
Cycling allows you to indulge in guilt-free snacks after a ride because it’s an effective way to burn calories and fat. A mere half hour of cycling to work can help you burn between 100-300 calories, depending on your pace and intensity. This calorie burn gives you some excuse to enjoy post-ride snacks, aiding in replenishing energy without the guilt.
A morning ride, especially when fasted, serves as an excellent training tool to enhance fat burn. When cycling, your body requires a balance in salt intake to maintain optimal hydration levels. Consuming snacks with sodium can protect against hyponatremia, a condition caused by drinking too much water without enough sodium, preventing symptoms like disorientation and illness.
Minimizes your carbon footprint
Cycling minimizes carbon footprint because it is a mode of transportation that does not rely on fossil fuels. Carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide emissions for which an individual or organization is responsible, and it significantly impacts the environment and global climate. A large carbon footprint contributes to the greenhouse effect, exacerbating global warming and leading to drastic changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels, and loss of biodiversity.
Commuting by bike, instead of by car, can reduce our contribution to this environmental problem. Research led by Transport Professor Christian Brand from the University of Oxford has shown that shifting to cycling can decrease transportation carbon footprint by 67%. This is because bikes don’t emit pollutants during use, require less energy and material in production, and due to their smaller size and weight ratio, biking causes less wear and tear on infrastructure.
When comparing cycling to public transport, even though public transport is more environmentally friendly than individual car usage, bikes still outshine them in terms of carbon emissions. Bikes require no energy to operate (apart from human energy), need minimal parking space, and their manufacturing process is far less resource-intensive than that of buses or trains.
Benefits of cycling daily
The benefits of cycling daily are improved cardiovascular health, enhanced muscle strength and flexibility, reduced body fat, saved time for work, and increased mental well-being. Because cycling is an aerobic activity, it boosts heart and lung health, strengthens the lower body muscles without stressing the joints, aids in weight management, promotes smoother joint movements, and releases endorphins that uplift mood and combat stress. Whether you commute to work by bike, ride a stationary bike at home or gym, or exercise biking outdoors every day, you can gain benefits both physically and mentally.
Benefits of cycling in the morning
The benefits of biking in the morning are kickstarting your metabolism, saving time on your commute to work, refreshing the body and mind, and easing fatigue. Because riding a bike in the early hours helps fire up your metabolism for the day, avoid morning traffic to reach work faster, activates your senses with fresh air, gets rid of feelings of sluggishness or tiredness, and ensures you start your day on an energized note.
Benefits of cycling after dinner
The benefits of biking after dinner are helping digestion, clearing the mind, and releasing accumulated tension from the day. Riding a bike post-meal helps the digestive process, offers a calm moment to relax, and acts as a physical outlet to relieve stress and muscle stiffness which were built up from daily tasks. Biking after dinner helps to get a higher quality of sleep.
Benefits of cycling after workout
The benefits of biking after a workout are improving muscle recovery, providing a gentle stretch to worked muscles, and helping to flush out any built-up lactic acid. Because riding a bike after a workout promotes increased blood flow to the muscles, allows for a low-impact stretch of the legs and lower body, and helps reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. Biking at a low intensity after a workout is used in cycling events, boxing, basketball, and more sports.
Benefits of cycling during periods
The benefits of biking during periods are easing menstrual cramps, promoting better blood circulation, and offering a mood lift due to endorphin release. Riding a bike during menstruation helps in gently exercising the abdominal muscles, aids in the reduction of bloating, and provides an overall sense of well-being. But remember don’t ride a bike if you feel uncomfortable, do use a tampon to get the most out of biking during this period.
Benefits of cycling during pregnancy
The benefits of biking during pregnancy are enhancing muscle tone and strength, which can aid in the birthing process, boosting cardiovascular health, ensuring better oxygen flow to the baby, and releasing pregnancy-related discomforts like back pain and swelling. Riding a bike(we recommend indoor cycling on an exercise bike when we talk about biking during pregnancy), when done safely and with proper precautions during pregnancy, provides gentle exercise that supports the body’s changing needs and can help prepare for smoother labor and delivery. Do consult a care team or doctor if you plan to ride a bike as a pregnant mother.
What muscles does biking work?
The muscles biking works are primarily the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, calves, hip flexors, shin and the muscles of the lower back and core.
- Quadriceps: Located at the front of the thigh, these muscles are responsible for extending the knee during pedaling. They play a crucial role when pushing down on the pedals, making them a primary mover during cycling.
- Hamstrings: Found at the back of the thigh, hamstrings are essential during the upward phase of pedaling, helping to bend the knee and bring the pedal up.
- Gluteus Maximus: This is the major muscle of the buttock. It provides power during the downstroke of pedaling, especially during uphill cycling or when accelerating.
- Calves: Comprising the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, the calves help to push the pedal down and pull it back up.
- Hip Flexors: These muscles, located at the front of the hip, play a role in bringing the thigh upward during the pedal upstroke.
- Shin: the shin muscle, primarily the tibialis anterior, aids in pulling the pedal upward during the recovery phase, complementing the downward push of the opposite leg.
- Lower Back and Core: Essential for maintaining posture during cycling, these muscles stabilize the cyclist on the bike, ensuring efficient power transfer to the pedals.
Different types of biking, such as mountain biking, road cycling, or casual cycling, work with different muscles due to variations in posture, terrain, and bike type. For example, mountain biking might engage the upper body more due to the need for control over rough terrains.
Gender doesn’t significantly change the primary muscles used in biking, however, men and women may have different muscle strengths and endurance capacities. Age might influence flexibility and muscle strength, but the primary muscles engaged remain consistent.
For casual riders, the intensity and engagement of these muscles might be less compared to professional cyclists who push their muscles to the limits in training and competition. Pro cyclists often engage in targeted cross-training to enhance specific muscle groups, further amplifying their cycling prowess.
Is biking cardio?
Yes, biking is cardio, because it increases the heart rate, making the heart pump faster and harder, and strengthens the cardiovascular system. The muscles primarily engaged while biking include the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, calves, hip flexors, and the muscles of the lower back and core.
Cardiovascular exercise, like biking, utilizes the aerobic energy-generating process, which relies on oxygen to convert carbohydrates into energy. As you pedal, the demand for oxygen in the working muscles increases, necessitating the heart to pump more blood and the lungs to supply more oxygen. This consistent activity improves cardiovascular endurance, reduces resting heart rate, and enhances the body’s ability to transport and utilize oxygen efficiently.
How many calories does biking burn?
The number of calories burned while biking depends on several factors, including the individual’s weight, the intensity and duration of the ride, and the terrain. However, as a general estimate:
For a person weighing 155 lbs (70 kg):
Biking at a moderate pace (12-14 mph, equal to 19.3-22.5 kph): approximately 300-400 calories per hour.
Biking at an intensive pace (14-16 mph, equal to 22.5-25.7 kph): approximately 500-600 calories per hour.
These figures come from the Harvard Medical School’s calorie expenditure charts and other similar resources. It’s essential to note that heavier individuals will burn more calories during the same activity duration, while lighter individuals will burn fewer. For the most accurate assessment, one should use tools or devices that account for personal metrics and specific activity details, like heart rate monitors or fitness trackers.
Is riding a bike good exercise?
Yes, riding a bike is good exercise. Biking with proper equipment setup is a low-impact aerobic exercise with physical health, psychological health and environmental benefits. The top 5 health benefits are decreasing weight, boosting muscle power and endurance, refining balance, enhancing joint movements and bones, and supporting enhanced respiratory health.
What happens to your body when you start cycling?
When you start cycling, your body will undergo several positive physiological changes including increasing cardiovascular fitness, enhancing joint mobility, and leading to fat loss.
Firstly, there’s an increase in cardiovascular fitness as your heart and lungs work more efficiently, resulting from studies that have shown that cycling to work can increase cardiovascular fitness by 3-7% (Andersen, Schnohr, Schroll, & Hein, 2000). Muscular endurance and strength particularly in the lower body see improvement, which was supported by research that highlights the activation of major muscle groups during cycling (Ericson, Bratt, Nisell, Arborelius, & Ekholm, 1986).
Furthermore, joint mobility, especially in the knees and hips, gets enhanced due to the circular motion involved in pedaling. Cycling has been linked to mental well-being improvements, with a study from the University of East Anglia suggesting that it can decrease stress and improve feelings of well-being.
Lastly, consistent cycling can lead to fat loss, given that a person weighing 155 pounds can burn up to 596 calories from an hour of cycling at a moderate pace, as cited by Harvard Health Publishing.
Does cycling make your legs bigger?
Yes, cycling can make your legs bigger, but the extent depends on the intensity and type of cycling, as well as individual factors. When you ride a bike, especially at high resistances or uphill, you’re performing a repetitive, resistance-based motion that works the major muscles in the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Over time and with consistent high-intensity or resistance training, this can lead to hypertrophy or the growth of muscle fibers.
Does cycling make your thighs bigger?
Yes, cycling can make your thighs bigger, The reason is similar to making your legs bigger only if you cycle at a certain intensity, type of cycling, and your physical condition.
Why do cyclists have big legs?
Cyclists have big legs because the act of cycling places significant demands on the major muscles of the lower body, leading to muscle hypertrophy. Different types of cycling have different impacts on the legs. For example, sprint cyclists, who engage in short bursts of high-intensity cycling, often develop more pronounced muscular legs due to their training regimen. Sprint cyclists have a higher proportion of type II muscle fibers while endurance cyclists tend to develop leaner muscles as they focus on stamina and efficiency.
How to cycle for bigger legs?
Cycling for bigger legs can be achieved only if you have a specific training method that targets hypertrophy(muscle growth) in the legs. You can start with higher resistance and low cadence, interval training, FTP cycling, strength training off the bike, consistency and progression, nutrition, recovery, and monitoring cadence and power.
Biking vs. Running, which is better?
Biking vs. running, which is better depends on your specific goals, physical condition, and preferences, such as impact, calorie burn, muscle activation, skill level, convenience, variety, injury risk, and cross-training opportunities.
Biking vs walking, which is better?
Biking is better for cardiovascular fitness and lower body strengthening than walking because it allows for higher intensity workouts and engages the leg muscles more effectively, while also being low-impact on the joints.
Biking vs rowing, which is better?
Risks and Disadvantages of Cycling
Cycling is a low-impact activity as we mentioned. Even though we mention 20 health benefits, there are still risks and disadvantages as below.
- Risks back pain.
- Leads to numbness and artery issues.
- Triggers muscle issues and injuries.
- Affects prostate and urinary health.
- Decreases bone density.
- Elevates heart rate; possible headache.
- Increases accident risk.
- Exposes to pollution.
- Can be costly.
- Weather and health can frustrate.
- Limited by distance and storage.
- Risk of bike theft.
- May cause self-doubt and monotony.
- Mixed environmental impact.
How much cycling is too much?
How much cycling is too much depends on various factors including individual fitness levels, type of cycling, gender, age, and recovery capacity.
For recreational cyclists, riding more than 3-5 hours daily without adequate rest and recovery can lead to overtraining symptoms.
Competitive and professional cyclists, however, often train 20-30 hours per week, but they do so with carefully planned training regimens, proper nutrition, and frequent medical check-ups.
For most men and women, signs of excessive cycling include persistent fatigue, mood swings, disrupted sleep, frequent injuries or illnesses, knee pain from cycling, and decreased performance. It’s essential to listen to one’s body, ensure regular rest days, and adjust training volumes based on individual responses.