Many young people have discovered the plentiful benefits of cycling, but this sport is an excellent form of exercise for people of all ages and skill levels.
With the endless roads, lanes, and paths to explore everywhere you go, you’ll never get bored or run short of cycling buddies to take along.
15 Physical, Mental, and Day-to-Day Benefits of Cycling
Read on to see what kinds of physical, mental, and everyday benefits of cycling you can expect once you’ve spent some time on the road.
Improved Physical Health
Some of the most obvious benefits to cycling are the physical ones that you’ll experience, whether you’re brand new to the sport or a seasoned rider.
Here are a few of the physical benefits of cycling you have to look forward to and why they matter.
Cycling is an excellent way to increase your cardiovascular fitness, and it’s low impact, which makes it ideal for people of all ages and skill levels.
Some medical conditions don’t mix well with cycling, but many people are able to ride a bike at a low intensity for varying levels of time, even as beginners.
Muscle Flexibility and Strength
Cycling works a number of different muscles in your body, including your core muscles and your legs.
When you ride your bike, you improve the condition and capability of all of your lower body muscles, and you can further enhance this strength when you add weightlifting and other exercises to the mix.
Your back and abdominal muscles also get a workout as they engage to keep you upright on the bike. Maintaining this position also gives you stronger muscles that offer enhanced spinal column support, more outstanding balance, and even help your comfort level while cycling.
Cycling can help you keep your joints limber without causing much more stress than walking.
A 2008 study also found that you can adjust your bike’s saddle height to reduce pressure on specific muscles near joints like the ankle so those with particular joint related pains can still enjoy biking.
Cycling is also low impact, which makes it an ideal activity for those who need cardiovascular exercise but suffer from conditions such as arthritis or obesity.
As an added bonus, as the muscles around your joints improve, you should have better posture and less stiffness overall.
Reduced Body Fat
It’s no secret that exercise can help reduce body fat, but timing your cycling may help you increase your insulin sensitivity whether you’re overweight or not.
A 2019 study found that fasted cardio, which can include cycling, helped study participants lose body fat without damaging their metabolisms.
While fasted cardio is one way to burn that excess fat, cycling at any time of the day is still beneficial for fat loss, provided it’s part of a healthy lifestyle that includes other factors like a nutritious diet and an appropriate amount of sleep.
An Improved Immune System
When you engage in mild exercise, there are a few things that your immune system does:
- Increases the activity level of white blood cells that attack and kill foreign cells that cause disease
- Release endogenous pyrogen, a type of protein that raises your temperature. This temperature increase makes your body a more hostile place for invading viruses and bacteria.
- Increases the production of the protein interferon that is an active defendant against viruses.
This combination makes it less likely that you’ll get sick if you engage in mild to moderate cycling levels, but high levels can cause stress, which mitigates the effect.
A Better Sex Life
You might be surprised to learn that you strengthen specific muscle groups in your body when you cycle that makes sex more comfortable.
When you cycle, you’ll probably lose some excess fat and feel a bit more comfortable in your body, which doesn’t hurt, but you’ll also have greater endurance for athletic intercourse sessions that last longer.
Improved Mental Health
Many individuals want to find enjoyable ways to improve their mental health, and the benefits of cycling include several different impacts that you might not find overly familiar.
Management for Depression and Anxiety
Anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million adults in the US, making them the most common form of mental illness. These conditions are highly treatable, but not everyone responds the same to conventional pharmaceutical treatments.
Exercise such as cycling can alleviate many depression and anxiety symptoms, and many individuals report an improved quality of life overall.
While these results vary from person to person, regular exercise can release endorphins that interact with your brain to reduce the feeling of pain.
Improved Navigational and Spatial Skills
The more you ride your bike, the better your balance will become, although you may not notice it right away. When you cycle, you’ll likely encounter technical elements, or changes in your path, such as:
- Inclines (hills of all sizes)
- Textured terrain
Unless you’re on a stationary bike, learning how to maneuver your bike around these types of technical elements is unavoidable, but it can massively boost your confidence each time you master one or see a marked improvement.
This increase in balance and navigational skills also includes learning to identify cardinal directions more quickly without needing a device and learning to judge when and how to move your bike in relation to the obstacle in your path for the safest, smoothest, or most efficient ride.
Another benefit of enhanced spatial awareness is that you’ll be able to pace yourself more accurately on your rides, which comes in handy when you are covering more ground with varied terrain.
Exercise can have a positive impact on your sleep by helping your circadian rhythms even out, but cardiovascular exercise, in particular, seems to have a direct link to the number of sleeping problems people report.
A study by the University of Georgia found that when participants lost time exercising over the long term, they seemed to have a more significant number of sleep issues than those that maintained a more consistent cardiorespiratory fitness level.
While this study is somewhat novel, it does establish that consistent exercise like cycling offers life-long benefits.
A Bigger Social Circle
When you start a new activity like cycling, chances are you’ll spend some time doing research and picking out the essential gear you need to get started.
You may also encounter other cyclists during your daily commute or exercise routine, and this provides an increased social circle and sense of community that many cyclists value.
Other cyclists are also an excellent source of information when you need recommendations on things like gear or new routes to try, and you can discuss various training techniques and tips for smoothly integrating cycling into your life.
A more cohesive social circle is also helpful for increasing your sense of well-being, and if you’re single, it can be a great way to meet someone that you share a hobby with or make a new friend to exercise alongside each day.
There are also many cycling clubs you can check out where you can learn a lot about cycling exercise and equipment maintenance quickly just by showing up.
Increased Brain Power
When you pair cycling or other forms of exercise with a healthy diet, it’s possible to mitigate some mild forms of cognitive decline associated with aging.
Cycling at moderate or high intensity may also reduce your risk of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and other cognitive declines.
Day to Day Life Benefits
When people consider taking up new forms of exercise, their thoughts typically go to how it will impact them physically and mentally.
Cycling can provide other benefits that affect your day to day life by saving you time and helping you form other healthy habits.
Start Your Day Off Right
Starting your day with some form of exercise can set a positive tone for the rest of your day, and that can help you stay motivated to make healthier choices.
Many people also do fasted cardio in the morning to help burn additional fat and boost their performance, and this is an easy and free way to gain that benefit.
Fasted cardio was found to help improve insulin response in many individuals after six weeks and helped riders burn more fat without damaging their metabolisms.
You may also find that morning exercise helps balance out your circadian rhythms, but it might take around two weeks to see this effect.
Benefits the Environment
When you ride your bike somewhere instead of driving, you reduce your carbon footprint while also opening up a wide array of new transportation options.
If you live in a more urban area or a city, cycling can also cut down on the time you spend looking for a parking space and the associated costs with parking and maintaining a vehicle.
Many individuals find that once they get accustomed to cycling longer distances, they find it a reasonable compromise between walking and driving a car.
Provided the weather is relatively pleasant, you may be able to save quite a bit of time and money taking your bike, and you’ll get the added health benefits.
Enjoy Your Commute
If you live in a crowded area, driving your car in congested traffic is probably a familiar and unenjoyable part of your life.
For many individuals, cycling is a better option that allows them the freedom to move past traffic jams using conventional sidewalks and bike lanes.
You may also find that nature trails are a viable option for your commute if you ride your bike, and this additional time spent in nature can have a myriad of health impacts.
Another benefit is that you are free to zip out of work at lunchtime and grab your favorite local meal or attend an appointment without the worry of finding parking when you return.
Be Safer (and More Aware)
Before you start cycling on busy streets or unfamiliar areas, it’s best to get acquainted with local bike laws and learn more about riding your bike in urban and more rural areas safely.
Cars are a frequent hazard for cyclists, but at the same time, driving is more hazardous to your health in many cases.
A 2020 study conducted in Toronto confirmed that cycle tracks or bike lanes helped to reduce collisions between cars and cyclists significantly, so sticking to those routes can help you stay safe.
Weather is another factor to think about before you set out, and sunny weather means you should wear sunscreen on any skin left uncovered by clothing.
If you embark on an extended ride, it’s a good idea to reapply the sunscreen every two hours and wear UV- protective clothes and UV-blocking sunglasses.
Larger cities may also have air pollution that you’ll contend with, but the fresher, open air is preferable to sitting in a traffic jam in an idling vehicle.
Of course, if you plan to bike to work each day, you may want to bring a change of clothes for when you arrive.
Staying safe during your commute is also about remaining aware, something you’re less likely to do if you’re in a car with the windows up and radio on.
Cycling as part of your commute or daily life means learning to pay attention to your surroundings, and that’s always a positive.
Cycling is an excellent form of exercise for many individuals who are looking to increase their cardiovascular fitness and improve their overall health.
This sport doesn’t require much to get started, just a bike and a helmet. But there are endless places you can explore, and you might even save time on your commute.
The health benefits of cycling reach across various facets of the body and mind, and there’s ample evidence to suggest that this form of exercise can help you live a healthier and longer life with better muscle tone, balance, and spatial awareness than with other forms of activity.
In short, the benefits of cycling might just change your life.