Taking the leap and becoming a cycler can be one of the best decisions you make in your life. There are numerous benefits of cycling that we will list throughout this post.
Whether it’s your physical or mental health, cycling is only going to benefit. And, opting to cycle more can provide additional benefits to the environment and the world around you.
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50 Benefits of Cycling
Health Benefits of Cycling:
- Build Muscle
There is no getting away from the serious leg workout you will experience when you hop on a bike. Especially if you are new to the sport, and you are just getting started. Cycling mainly targets your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. When you stress the muscles, new muscle fibers will be built and repaired to help your body adapt to the exercise.
If you cycle at low resistance your muscles will build slowly, however you can increase resistance by riding in a higher gear, uphill, and including sprint intervals in your workouts.
- Burn Fat
Cycling is one of the best exercises you can do to burn some body fat. Low intensity, aerobic and long duration exercises are some of the most effective ways to lose body fat. This is why road cyclists have next to zero body fat on them.
You can ramp up the fat-burning process by heading out in the morning before you have eaten anything. Cycling fasted has been proven to improve your fat-burning metabolism.
- Improve lower body strength
Your lower body strength isn’t always directly correlated to how much muscle you pack on your legs. There is plenty of power lifters at lower body-weight classes who lift a lot more weight, than bodybuilders who look twice their size.
Cycling is a great way to build up that lower body strength, particularly in your quads. You can speed up the process you can drop into a lower gear and grind away, just be careful to keep an eye on any soreness in your knee joints.
Over time you will get stronger, and start to see the benefits transfer into other areas of your life.
- Decrease your stress levels
You may have heard the saying “runners high” which is a meditative state that runners enter when they can block out all of the troubles of the world and focus purely on the run ahead of them.
You can experience the same benefits through cycling. To cycle effectively you have to focus on the way you are breathing, and taking deep breaths has been proven to reduce your levels of stress.
So, if you find yourself getting overworked or overstressed, perhaps you can benefit from a peaceful 30-minute bike ride every day.
- Protect your knees
You might know someone who ran a lot or played other physical/high-intensity sports in their youth, whose knees have gotten worse as they have aged. This is not uncommon and can be a serious issue if not dealt with early on.
Luckily, cycling is one of the best sports in terms of impact on your knee joints. As your weight is supported by your bike frame, and not your legs, your knees aren’t getting overloaded.
This is why you see lots of elderly people cycling way into old age. Just be sure to get your bike fitted properly, so you aren’t over or under extending your knees on your pedal strokes.
- Improve lung capacity
In the same way that cycling trains the muscles in your legs, you can train the muscles that are responsible for expanding and contracting your lungs. The combination of breathing deeper and faster as you ride helps you be able to meet the metabolic demands of your body.
As you get better at cycling and cycle faster or further, your lung capacity and breathing efficiency will also improve. There is a limit to how much you can increase your lung capacity, as they are protected by your rib cage. However, it’s been reported that you can improve your lung capacity by up to 15% with consistent exercise.
- Improve your happiness
Consistent exercise of around 30-minutes per day can drastically improve your happiness and overall mental well-being. According to a study the chances of getting depressed decreased dramatically in people who exercised regularly as part of their daily routine as they aged.
If you live fairly close to work, even just cycling to and from your workplace could be more than enough exercise to improve your happiness and overall mood.
- Reduced Anxiety
Cycling is a sure way to reduce the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body. Feeling anxious is closely related to being over-stressed. Regularly taking part in any exercise can keep your levels of cortisol lower, and help keep anxiety at bay.
- Improved range of motion & flexibility
Cycling causes you to stretch and extend parts of your body that don’t often get stretched in everyday life. For example your glutes, hip flexors, and even lower back (if you like to cycle in a forward racing cycling position).
This constant stretching will improve your flexibility and range of motion overtime. Just remember to also stretch immediately after your rides so they don’t immediately tighten up.
- Improved sleep quality
We have already touched on how cycling can help to reduce stress, and anxiety. But, it can also improve the overall quality of your sleep. Anxiety and being overweight has been closely correlated with insomnia.
So, for a good night’s sleep, ensure to get your regular exercise in. And, there is also no doubt that after you have pushed yourself on the bike, you will also feel more tired naturally.
- Healthy Heart
Heart disease is one of the most prevalent diseases taking lives across the UK and the rest of the world. Cycling for just 20-minutes a day can drastically reduce your risk of getting heart disease – by up to 50%!
A healthy diet, and cutting out unhealthy habits e.g. drinking alcohol and smoking, can also reduce your risk of getting heart disease.
- Improve your cholesterol levels
Not all cholesterol is bad, in fact there is both good (HDL Cholesterol) and bad (LDL Cholesterol) in your body. One of the best benefits of cycling is that you can boost the good, and reduce the bad.
Only 2 months of regular cycling at an intensity that gets your heart rate up is enough to boost the levels of good HDL Cholesterol in your body by 5%.
- Reduce risk of Cancer
A study from the University of Glasgow, states that compared to “a non-active commute”, riding a bike to work was associated with a 45 percent lower risk of cancer and a 46 percent lower risk of heart disease.
Coupled with the lower risk of heart disease, there really is no reason why you shouldn’t incorporate some cycling into your daily routine!
- Control Diabetes
It’s common for people with Type II Diabetes to experience swelling in their lower legs and feet due to poor blood circulation. Cycling is a great way to improve the blood return and circulation in your lower body, and thus reducing swelling and reducing pain.
Cycling also requires a lot of energy and thus glucose in your muscle cells, it can help people with diabetes regulate blood sugar levels.
- Boost Brain Power
Not only does cycling grow your leg muscles, but it can also boost your brain power! In a very similar way blood flow to your lower body increases, it also increases blood flow to your brain, thus bringing more oxygen and nutrients that can boost your brain power & performance.
Riding also increases the production of proteins that are used for creating new brain cells by 2-3x the normal levels.
- Helps you eat frequently
Cycling for long distances will soon help you burn through your body’s fat and sugar reserves, which requires you to eat small but frequent meals to replenish your nutrient levels during long rides.
The habit of eating small but regular meals can help your digestive tract function more smoothly, and promotes healthier eating. One study that looked at over 2,700 women and men found that those who ate at least six times per day ate fewer calories, consumed healthier foods and had a lower body mass index than those who ate fewer than four times over a 24-hour period.
- Improves your blood pressure
High blood pressure puts you at risk of complications such as heart attacks and strokes. High blood pressure is correlated with an unhealthy lifestyle, high body fat and lack of exercise.
Cycling is a great exercise to counteract high blood pressure, and the heart benefits coupled with better blood circulation from your lower body to your heart will drastically reduce your risk of heart complications.
- Positive addiction
Speak to a handful of keen cyclists, and you soon get the feeling that they are literally addicted to cycling. To them it’s more than just a sport, but an obsession.
Thankfully, it’s nothing but a positive addiction, and becoming addicted to something like cycling can help stave off other negative addictions such as bad eating habits, smoking, or drug use.
- Helps you be in tune with your body
If you get super serious about cycling, especially at a competitive level, or even just trying to regularly smash your PBs. You have to be in tune with your body, and understand the smallest signals your body is trying to tell you about mood, fatigue, stress and overexertion.
Being tuned into these signals can improve your daily life, from understanding being overstressed at work, or when you are becoming ill.
- Stay fit whilst injured
Cycling can be a great way to stay in shape and healthy whilst recovering from other injuries that may have been caused in another sport. Peddling for example puts less strain on your ankles than running, and has a low impact on your joints. You won’t be able to cycle however if you have pulled a muscle in your quads, hamstrings or glutes.
- Improve aerobic capacity
By improving your aerobic capacity, you are going to be able to cycle for longer, and feel fitter whilst carrying out numerous other sports. Your aerobic capacity is essentially your body’s ability to move more oxygen to your muscles and has been directly linked to sports performance.
Cycling is one of the best exercises you can do to improve your aerobic capacity because it combines long sustained effort with intervals of explosive power.
- Look Younger
It sounds contradictory, but being outside and cycling can actually protect your skin from harmful UV rays and help you look younger. But how?
A study from the university of Stanford found that better blood flow, increased oxygen and nutrient levels being delivered to the skin during cycling helps the skin replenish itself and flush out toxins. This doesn’t mean you should skip the sun screen whilst cycling though!
- Your Digestion
Cycling also works out your core muscles and the ones surrounding your digestive tract. It’s common for cyclists to experience more frequent bowel movements. That isn’t a bad thing! It reduces the feeling of being bloated, creates softer stools and reduces your risk of digestive tract cancers.
- Prevent Disease
Researchers at ASU in North Carolina found that taking part in exercise can boost the number of immune system cells circulating in the body. The effect is only temporary, but taking part in exercise regularly means that the body becomes more vigilant of viruses and bacteria that can cause conditions such as the common cold.
So even if you just hop on your bike whilst commuting to work, your immune system will thank you for it, and return the favour by preventing common diseases such as the common cold by up to 40%, compared to someone who doesn’t exercise.
- Live Longer
We have already touched on how cycling regularly can reduce the likelihood of some of the most common killers such as heart attacks, strokes, cancer and heart diseases. There have been many studies on how cyclists tend to have longer life spans than non-cyclists – an average of 5 years for men, and 4 for women.
- Reduce pain from Arthritis
It is common for professional cyclists to experience some level of Arthritis, but it is only usually in later-life once they have retired from competition that they get associated pain with the condition.
Rob Middleton, consultant and orthopaedic surgeon at Royal Bournemouth Hospital, recommends cycling on a regular basis to prevent muscle wastage and to delay the onset of Arthritis, as well as reducing its effects.
- Better Hydration
Everyone knows it’s good to drink a lot of water throughout the day. One of the best ways to hit your daily water intake is to carry out some form of exercise.
Optimal levels of hydration promotes better cardiovascular health, as well as keeping your joints and muscles in better working order. If you cycle regularly, you are sure to take in lot’s of water before, during and after your workout.
- Reduced Fatigue
Exercise can actually make you feel less fatigued? In the short term, exercise is going to tire you out, that’s just how it works. But, over the long-run with regular exercise, you are going to feel less fatigued whilst going about your day-to-day life.
Researchers from the University of Georgia in the US, found that adults who took part in low intensity exercise found feelings of fatigue occurring 65% less frequently than those who never exercised.
Even the research group that took part in high-intensity exercise reported reduced fatigue of 49%.
- Better Posture
Correct posture is kind of a big deal whilst cycling. It affects not only your comfort on long rides, but also your speed and performance. Having the right posture on your bike is going to place less strain on your lower back, and prevent injuries.
Learning how to have the correct bike posture will translate into your day-to-day life as you walk around, and can reduce your risk of back pain.
Environmental Benefits of Cycling:
We all know that petrol and diesel cars are bad for the environment. They cause lots of noise and air pollution. Yet, so many of us opt to contribute to one of the largest man-made greenhouse gas emissions instead of seeking out better alternatives.
Sometimes, it’s pure laziness, but it can also be a lack of education on the subject. Below are our best environmental benefits of cycling.
- Reduce your CO2 output
Even really short commutes of around 5 miles to work each day can add up to over 100 gallons of gas over a period of a year. Now imagine hundreds of millions of people doing this on a daily basis.
Bikes aren’t powered by fossil fuels. Reduce your carbon footprint and reduce your commute emissions to zero, by opting to cycle to and from work. You’ll not only be saving the planet, but also getting the numerous health benefits we mentioned through points 1-27.
- Reduce smog
Smog has become more of a headline issue over the last few years, and it is getting worse. Cars are the largest contributor to smog in densely populated cities such as London, it is reported that over 4000 people died in London as a result of smog/air pollution in 2019.
Cycling doesn’t cause any air pollutants, and if more people choose to cycle in densely populated cities (or anywhere for that matter), the air would be safer to breathe.
- Reduce noise pollution
Air pollution isn’t the only issue surrounding motor vehicles and the environment. Noise pollution caused by car engines creates a less-peaceful environment and causes a serious number of noise complaints in cities.
Switching to a bike, which makes next to no noise is a better option. Plus, long exposure to moderate sounds can actually cause auditory damage.
- Bikes take up less space
Real estate in cities is expensive. A single car parking space can easily fit up to 12 bikes in it, which over the scale of a large city, and all of the car parks can save a lot of space that could be used for more useful properties.
- Less manufacturing resources
The manufacture of bikes does use some resources that have a negative effect on the environment, there is no getting away from that for now. But, compared to it’s four wheel counterpart – the car, it uses significantly less.
This becomes more apparent when you look further into the manufacture of car components such as leather for seats, and Lithium mining for car batteries (hence why bikes are even better than electric cars).
- Save the Rainforest
Yes, bike tyres do use rubber, but the small, skinny tyres of a road bike don’t use anywhere near as much rubber as the 4 wheels of a car, or the 16 wheels on a lorry. Rubber typically comes from rubber plantations which are placed in tropical rainforests. This means that the rainforest has to be cut down, burned and turned into a plantation to meet the demands for the world’s rubber use.
- Reduce water pollution
It wouldn’t be immediately obvious that cars are contributing heavily to water pollution. But, all cars leak motor oil, anti-freeze, and brake fluid onto our roads which is then washed away via heavy rain into storm drains and into streams, rivers, lakes and the ocean where it can poison marine life—which we might eat—as well as coastal ecosystems.
Economic Benefits of Cycling:
Owning a bike is far cheaper than owning a car, and everyone loves to save money. So not only do you get all of the health and environmental benefits of riding a bike, but you also get more money in your pocket.
- Bikes are cheaper than cars
If you need a way to get around, and you don’t travel very far for work or to socialise, then a bike is a great consideration. The initial outlay for the cost of a bike is much less than what you would pay for a car nowadays.
Some bikes can run into the thousands of pounds, but if you aren’t competitively cycling, and you just want to get from point A to B, a bike can be as much as 1000% cheaper than a car!
- You can use public bikes
Even though we mentioned above that bikes are much cheaper than cars, you still have to pay for one. If you are really saving money, then use a public city bike like the Santander bike in London. Many cities offer bike-sharing programmes that you can use for a low monthly cost, saving you even more money in the long run.
- Reduced petrol/diesel costs
We all know petrol and diesel costs have risen significantly over the last few years. Filling your car to the brim has become a severely expensive purchase. To fill your bike up with petrol or diesel it costs… nothing. That’s because you can’t.
Revel in the benefits (from a health and economic standpoint), of riding your human-powered bike around.
- Save on parking costs
Parking your car isn’t free in most places, and if you work in a city, parking can actually be really expensive. You can lock your bike up securely for free, or for a fraction of the cost of a car. Be sure to know how to prevent bike theft!
- Support local businesses
You probably aren’t going to travel as far on a bike, as you would in a car. Therefore choosing to ride your bike for small errands like grocery shopping can make you support smaller local businesses, which boosts your communities economy.
- Get around faster
As the saying goes… time is money! In most cities getting around in a car can be a nightmare. Especially if you are commuting at rush hours. You sit there in gridlock frustrated at all of the cyclists whizzing through the cycle lanes.
- Drop your gym membership
This isn’t really applicable if you enjoy weight lifting or swimming. But, if you are going to the gym to lose weight and do cardio, then riding your bike can be a great alternative and save you a lot of gym costs in the long run.
Social benefits of cycling:
- Make new friends
Cycling can be a very social sport if you want it to be. Joining a local cycling club can be a great way to meet some new friends. That will only push you further and can offer some advice when it comes to cycling.
- Join a club
Cycling clubs will usually welcome cyclists of all skill levels and experience. For people interested in racing, they can be a great place to meet potential teammates. Whilst for the more casual rider, they can be a place to meet new friends and improve your cycling knowledge.
- Create awesome memories
Nothing quite beats the feeling of tackling a massive route with beautiful views and a few beer stops with your mates. Cycling opens the doors to new experiences and locations you would have never explored before. You can talk about these experiences and memories for years to come.
- Help others
Being a mentor to others feels great. Even if you are fairly new to cycling, you only have to be one step ahead of somebody else to teach them something they don’t know. This is just another awesome benefit of cycling that you probably never thought about.
- Cycle with family
You don’t just have to cycle alone or with mates, you can make it a family affair and create a stronger bond with your loved ones. This is also great if you have a young-one who is just old enough to ride a bike. We can all remember that feeling of taking the stabilizers off for the first time!
- Support charities
Cycling events and races are huge supporters of charities, local, and worldwide. Some require an entrance fee, or require you to raise money from your friends and family. Either way, cycling for charity is a great idea, and you’ll feel good about supporting a helpful cause.
- Get more dates!
This one might sound a bit random, but a study has actually concluded that people are 23% more likely to go on a date with a cyclist over any other sports person! So get your helmet on, and get out on that bike if you are still searching for the one!