Cycling is not just a type of recreational activity, bringing us fun, but also provides us many other benefits. Some of them are obvious and easy to see, like its health benefits for our heart, legs, etc. But, there may be some benefits of cycling out there that you have not noticed yet.
In this article, I’ll put together 19 cycling benefits, physical-side, mental-side, and social-side which can prove that riding on a bike is definitely a great and right decision to make. Check them now.
Physical Benefits of Cycling
1. Cycling Burns Calories and Decreases Body Fat Levels
One of the most obvious physical health benefits of cycling is that it helps you burn calories and decrease body fat levels. Cycling is a low-impact exercise that gets your heart rate up and your blood flowing. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a person who weighs 155 pounds can burn up to 298 calories in just 30 minutes of cycling at a moderate pace of 12-13.9 mph. That’s a lot of calories burned in a short amount of time.
But it’s not just about the calories burned during the exercise itself. Cycling also has a positive effect on your metabolism, meaning that your body continues to burn calories even after you’ve finished your ride. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that cycling at a moderate intensity for just 45 minutes increased participants’ metabolic rates for up to 14 hours after the exercise.
Not only does cycling burn calories and decrease body fat levels, but it also does wonders for weight loss and management. There is evidence that regular exercise, including cycling, can help reduce body fat and improve cardiovascular fitness in overweight and obese adults.
2. Cycling is Good for Leg Strength
Another obvious physical health benefit of cycling is the improvement of leg strength. Cycling is a low-impact exercise that can be done at varying intensities, making it an excellent workout for both beginners and advanced riders.
When you cycle, your leg muscles work harder than they do during normal activities such as walking or running. According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, cycling can help increase leg strength and muscle endurance in adults. The study found that after eight weeks of cycling, participants showed significant improvements in their leg strength and endurance.
In addition to building strength, cycling can also help tone your leg muscles, particularly your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. These muscles are responsible for powering your bike and propelling you forward, making them work harder than they would during other activities.
3. Cycling Builds Overall Strength
Cycling is not just beneficial for your leg muscles, but also for your overall strength.
When you cycle, you engage your core muscles to maintain balance and stability on the bike. This can help strengthen your core muscles, including your abdominals, obliques, and lower back muscles. Additionally, cycling can help improve your arm strength, particularly if you are riding uphill or on rough terrain.
4. Cycling Improves Joint Mobility
Cycling is a low-impact exercise that puts minimal stress on the joints, making it an excellent option for people with joint pain or mobility issues. Additionally, cycling can help improve joint mobility, as it involves repetitive motion that helps lubricate the joints and increase flexibility.
Cycling can also be beneficial for people with arthritis. A study published in the Journal of Rheumatology found that cycling improved joint pain and function in people with knee osteoarthritis. The study concluded that cycling was a safe and effective exercise for people with knee osteoarthritis.
5. Cycling Builds Endurance and Stamina
Cycling is a great way to build endurance and stamina, as it is a low-impact form of exercise that can be sustained for long periods. As you cycle regularly, your body will become more efficient at using oxygen, allowing you to cycle for longer periods without getting tired.
6. Cycling Increases Muscle Strength and Flexibility
Cycling works the major muscle groups in the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. These muscles become stronger over time as they adapt to the demands of cycling.
Cycling can also help improve flexibility in the legs, hips, and lower back. When you cycle, your legs move through a full range of motion, which helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles. Over time, this can improve your flexibility and range of motion, making it easier to perform everyday activities. According to an article published on Cleveland Clinic, cycling can activate your hamstrings at about 17%, your quadriceps at 17% and the glutes at 15 to 17%, which means loosening your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and hips.
7. Cycling Increases Cardiovascular Fitness and Improves Cardiovascular Health
One of the most significant physical health benefits of cycling is its ability to increase cardiovascular fitness and improve cardiovascular health. Cycling is an aerobic exercise that requires sustained effort over an extended period, making it an excellent way to get your heart pumping and improve your overall fitness levels.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, cycling can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The study found that people who cycle regularly have a lower risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions.
Additionally, cycling can help improve your overall cardiovascular fitness. When you cycle, your heart rate increases, and your blood vessels dilate, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to flow to your muscles. Over time, this increased blood flow can help improve your cardiovascular fitness, making it easier for you to perform everyday activities and reducing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
8. Cycling Increases Balance and Coordination
Balance is a crucial aspect of physical health, especially as we age. Many people experience a decline in balance as they get older, which can lead to falls and fractures. Cycling is an excellent way to improve balance, as it requires constant adjustments in body position to stay upright and maintain momentum.
According to a study published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, cycling can improve balance in older adults. The study found that cycling training improved balance, as well as leg strength and overall functional performance in older adults. The study concluded that cycling could also be an effective fall prevention strategy for older adults, in addition to improving balance.
9. Cycling Improves Sex Life
It may come as a surprise to learn that cycling can improve cholesterol management and lead to a better sex life. According to a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, women cyclists were no more likely to report sexual dysfunction or urinary symptoms than swimmers or runners.
Mental Health Benefits of Cycling
Cycling is not just an excellent way to stay physically fit; it also has numerous mental health benefits. As a cycling enthusiast, I have experienced the mental benefits of cycling first-hand and have explored the research to understand the science behind it.
10. Cycling Decreases Stress Levels
Many of us experience stress in our lives, and it can have a significant impact on our mental health. However, cycling can be an effective way to manage stress levels. An article published by Harvard Health Publishing explains that exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
11. Cycling Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are widespread mental health conditions that can have a significant impact on our lives. Fortunately, cycling can be an effective way to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. A study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that participants who cycled to work experienced a decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms. The study also found that cycling to work improved overall well-being and reduced perceived stress levels.
12. Cycling Improves Mood and Self-Esteem
Cycling can also be an effective way to improve mood and self-esteem. A study published on the ResearchGate found that the conspicuous leisure consumption of bicycle hobbyists had a positive effect on happiness, with self-esteem, leisure satisfaction, and recreational specialization acting as moderating variables.
13. Cycling Increases Cognitive Function
Cycling is a great way to improve cognitive function. Studies have shown that cycling can improve memory, reasoning, and planning skills.
A study published on PubMed Central (PMC), which is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature in the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine (NIH/NLM), investigated and showed the positive effect of an outdoor cycling intervention on cognitive function and mental health and well-being in older adults.
A total of 100 older adults took part in the study for an eight-week period, with cycling participants required to cycle at least three times a week for thirty minutes in duration for each cycle ride. The study found that both cycling groups improved in accuracy for executive function after the intervention compared to non-cycling control participants. E-bike participants also improved in processing speed and their mental health score after the intervention compared to non-cycling controls.
14. Cycling Makes You Feel Good
Cycling is a great way to boost your mood. Cycling releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals that make us feel good. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers and can improve our mood.
15. Cycling Improves Concentration and Awareness
Cycling requires concentration and awareness, which can be beneficial in other areas of our lives. Cycling can improve our ability to concentrate and be present in the moment. It can also improve our awareness of our surroundings. For example, cycling can make us better drivers.
16. Cycling Helps You Sleep Better
Cycling can help improve the quality of our sleep. Studies have shown that regular exercise can improve sleep quality. According to Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital, based on available studies, there is solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality.
Researchers don’t completely understand how physical activity improves sleep. However, moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep you get. Slow wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate. Exercise can also help to stabilize your mood and decompress the mind, which is important for naturally transitioning to sleep. And cycling is a great way to get exercise and can help us fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
Social Benefits of Cycling
Cycling is not only an enjoyable form of exercise, but it also provides numerous social benefits that contribute to a healthier, happier lifestyle. Whether you are looking to meet new people or to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, cycling can offer you a wide range of social benefits that you may not have considered before.
17. Cycling Increases Social Interaction
Cycling is a social activity that can bring people together from all walks of life. Whether you are cycling with friends or joining a local bike club, cycling provides an opportunity to meet new people and expand your social circle. According to a study published in the Journal of Transport and Health, cycling is associated with social capital, which is defined as the networks, norms, and trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation among individuals and groups. By cycling, you can build social capital by meeting new people, sharing experiences, and developing relationships with others who share your passion for cycling.
18. Cycling Helps Make Friends and Community Involved
Cycling is a great way to get involved in your local community and make new friends.
By joining a cycling club or group, you can meet new people who share your interests and participate in group rides, events, and social activities. Cycling can also provide opportunities to volunteer and contribute to your community. For example, many cycling clubs organize charity rides and events that raise money for local causes and organizations.
Cycling will also help riders have more of a sense of what is going on in the community. You will get to know beautiful things better when you ride on a bike, less slowly compared to that when you sit in a car.
Like “oh, she planted tomatoes” and then “OMG, they grew” a few weeks later. This is awesome, isn’t it? Or, you can wave at people who look like they need to be waved at. There are a wide variety of reasons why people need to be waved at, but it generally boils down to “I see you”. So simple as getting closer to nature when you ride through some natural areas in the community. Like there was a huge snapping turtle on the path last week. In a car, you might see the same things, but not in the same way as you drive by at 60mph.
19. Cycling Reduces Traffic Congestion and Air Pollution
Cycling can also have a positive impact on the environment by reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. According to a project led by ECF, if people cycle for 15 extra minutes per day, cities can reduce traffic congestion and even have 100,000 fewer people dying prematurely, each year.
Cycling also reduces air pollution by emitting zero emissions, which can improve air quality and reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses. By cycling, you can contribute to a cleaner, greener environment and help make your community a better place to live.
Over to You
I know these benefits covered above are definitely not all good things that cycling can bring to us. So if you have some ideas about it, please feel free to leave a comment below and share your thoughts, and I will update it.