11 benefits of cycling for a healthy body & mind

Last Updated on July 24, 2022 by Michael Rogers

Benefits of cycling
Taking in the view during a ride is just one of the many perks!

Benefits Of Cycling

Exercise is one of the greatest keys to a healthy life.

While there are many sports to choose from, the benefits of cycling make it an ideal choice for those who want improved quality of life and a healthier mind & body.

Cycling continues to grow in popularity as a sport & exercise activity. Year after year more & more people adopt it as their physical activity of choice.

If you’re thinking about starting cycling or just want to know a little bit more about its advantages, this article is for you!

Below, we get into the 11 benefits that riding a bike has on the body and the mind. Want to know more about the benefits of cycling, and what does cycling do for your body?

Keep reading to find out!


what does cycling do for your body?

1. Muscle Strengthening

man holding mountain bike up with one hand
Adding strength!

One of the many Benefits of Cycling.

The first major benefit of cycling is muscle strengthening.

Because of all the movements involved, cycling strengthens many parts of the body at the same time. Leg muscles get the most benefit, namely the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes & calf muscles.

Next in line is the upper body, which also gets well-exercised. The arms, shoulders, abs & all spine extensors are all strengthened during cycling.

Joints such as knees, hips & ankles are also activated while riding. The high number of muscles involved in cycling makes this a pretty ideal & complete exercise and therefore an excellent option for those seeking whole-body muscle strengthening.

Is 30 minutes of cycling enough?

Yes, 30 minutes a day is plenty of time to get your heart rate up, which will increase your endurance & cardiovascular fitness over time.

Better energy levels are also usually found in people who ride their bikes because the exercise of cycling will enhance your overall stamina.

What happens if I only cycle 10 minutes a day?

Even just 10 minutes a day of riding your bike is beneficial and is much better than skipping it altogether.

Cycling for 10 minutes a day will get you out of the house and into the flow of activity, making it easier to extend your ride time.

Most people will find that once they’re out riding they want to keep going because it’s so much fun and a great break from the norm.

10 minutes of riding a day can definitely increase your physical fitness, and is a great way to start for those who are just getting into cycling!

2. Improved Breathing

man in the woods taking a deep breath

Cycling is an aerobic exercise that increases overall physical fitness.

While pedaling, the cardiac and respiratory systems are activated, raising the heart rate. When this happens, you need to adjust your breathing to increase blood oxygenation.

Through time & experience, you naturally learn to control your breathing while riding.

Controlled breathing increases physical conditioning while decreasing fatigue. This type of endurance conditioning is beneficial for overall health & wellness. For this reason, improved breathing is a huge advantage of biking.

Does cycling improve lung capacity?

Yes, cycling enhances lung function. Long-term, your lung capacity can be increased by up to 15% through regular cycling.

This extra breath will allow you to get more out of your ride while also increasing your stamina.

3. Weight Loss

woman on her bike

It should be no surprise that weight loss is one of the biggest benefits of regular cycling.

Of course, diet is a huge factor in losing weight, but there’s simply no substitute for physical activity, and cycling as an exercise definitely moves you closer to your goals much faster!

Riding a bike at a steady, moderate pace burns 300 calories per hour. And obviously, more intense cycling – like trail riding, or riding on hills & inclines – burns much more calories per hour than casual riding.

Can cycling reduce belly fat?

Yes, studies have shown that moderate-intensity cycling can help to reduce belly fat. It’s important to know that it takes time & consistency to take off fat, and that consistency is one of the big keys to this.

Good news… cycling is a very fun & attractive hobby that most people seem to really enjoy once they get into it.

How much should I cycle a week to lose weight?

For weight loss, the longer bike ride you can do, the better.

To start, you should try to take a 15-30 minute bike ride each day, and extend it little by little each week.

Longer bike rides are the goal, and they have two main advantages for weight loss:

  • The longer you ride, the more fat you burn.
  • You gain endurance which makes long rides easier & easier to do each time.

Healthy Recipes help maintain Healthy Weight

A healthy diet is one of the main components to maintaining a healthy weight.

To quote author Michael Pollan, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

My go-to breakfast for a clean & fresh start to the day is a Green Smoothie. Don’t let the color fool you, these smoothies are really delicious, and are also Very Healthy!

4. Chronic Disease Prevention

prevention is better than cure

Chronic diseases are diseases that can’t be cured once you’ve gotten them. In those cases, the best scenario is to simply aim to decrease the negative effects they may have on the body.

The most common lifestyle-related diseases are type 2 diabetes, heart disease & hypertension. These usually develop in people with high cholesterol & triglycerides levels and are often the result of a sedentary lifestyle.

The best way to avoid (or at least reduce) these diseases or reduce their effects, is by engaging in physical exercises combined with a healthy diet.

Cycling is an excellent exercise with this goal in mind because it works the whole body! I also can’t say enough about how good cycling makes you feel. Moving through the outdoors on a bike is just one of the most awesome feelings there is!

What diseases can biking prevent?

Which diseases are actually prevented with exercises like cycling:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Some cancers
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Does cycling increase life expectancy?

A resounding YES! According to a study by the British Medical Journal regular cycling increases life expectancy by as much as 41%, and that of heart disease & cancer by as much as 46%!

5. Enhanced Immunity

enhanced immunity

In addition to a decreased likelihood of developing chronic diseases, biking also increases the body’s immune response, keeping away everyday illnesses like coughs & colds.

Cycling does this by improving metabolism & increasing your body’s strength, which can also significantly slow the aging process.

Another reason for increased immunity has to do with cycling being an outdoor activity. Usually, people usually ride their bikes outside in daylight. The sun is an excellent source of vitamin D, which naturally strengthens the immune system.

According to a report by The Guardian, Cycling keeps your immune system young.

They report that Cycling can hold back the effects of aging and rejuvenate the immune system.

6. Decreased Stress

woman stretching beside lake and mountains

Adding to the already amazing list of benefits, cycling also brings improved mental health brought about through stress relief. The act of physical exercise releases endorphins which interact with receptors in the brain and reduce the perception of pain. Endorphins also result in a feeling of well-being in your body, greatly increasing the quality of life.

Now that’s what I call a Great Benefit!

Incresed endorphin levels

Adding all the advantages that riding a bike brings to the body, there is still the improvement of mental health by reducing stress. Physical exercise releases the hormone endorphin that is responsible for the feeling of well-being, increasing the quality of life of people.

These chemicals released by the body through the habit of physical activity also help sin regulate well-being. So you can actually cultivate a better quality of life, including more positivity & tranquility in your everyday life.

Reduced Cortisol Levels

Regular cycling has also been shown to reduce the levels of cortisol, which are the body’s stress hormones, which are known to disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythms.

What’s more, you’ll also likely find you have increased attention span, memory & productivity, which will enhance abilities at work or school, not to mention the prevention of neurological diseases.

This increase in well-being has even more positive impacts on the lives of people suffering from psychological disorders such as depression or anxiety since endorphins are known to promote feelings of relaxation.

In addition, many people like to play music on headphones while riding. This makes it even easier to take a break from any worries or problems and recharge your mental & emotional batteries. This results in a greater capacity to face routine problems with a can-do attitude that also leads to a decrease in stress and a worry-free frame of mind.

Even Being a Bike Passenger has Benefits

There are many examples of improved health & longevity for bike passengers. Sound funny? Well, I’m sure the people over at Cycling Without Age would be able to give you plenty of evidence to support this.

7. Self Confidence

woman standing at her bike with arms raised in victory

There’s just something about getting on your bike and taking on a new goal you’ve set for yourself.

Even simple goals like riding your furthest distance, beating your previous best time record, or riding a certain amount of days in a row can give you a real sense of accomplishment & achievement!

Try it for yourself… Set a goal to ride further than you’ve ever done previously and you’ll feel a difference. A certain sense of internal strength & pride comes with stretching your limits and conquering new challenges!

8. Enhanced Balance

women walking on curb showing good balance

We all know that learning to ride a bike can be tough. It’s because the balance it requires takes a mastery of balance that only practice can provide.

They say you never forget how to ride a bike, Well, the benefits of balance & posture have lasting effects when you ride as an adult, too! And even experienced cyclists can gain ( or regain ) these benefits from cycling on a regular basis.

How does cycling improve balance?

Cycling improves your balance by stretching & strengthening your leg, hip, and glute muscles. These muscles give you stability while you’re on your feet, and increase your ability to get up from a seated position.

Development of these muscles also takes pressure off of the lower back, which can reduce back pain.

9. Improved Sleep

woman resting in bed

Bike riding also brings excellent results in improved sleep. Putting yourself in motion helps the body release hormones that bring a greater sense of relaxation, that can also be easily felt at bedtime.

This is why cycling is highly recommended for people who suffer from insomnia or have stressful schedules.

How does cycling improve sleep?

Regular cycling improves sleep by allowing for increased production of serotonin, which is the hormone responsible for sound sleep.

Although, it’s better to get at least 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise earlier in the day, rather than close to bedtime.

10. Blood Pressure Regulation

man taking his blood pressure

As seen, cycling on a regular basis helps you breathe better, and better breathing lets your body more easily bring in oxygen & expel carbon dioxide. When you can breathe more easily, your heart has an easier time oxygenating your body, and as a result, your blood pressure is better regulated.

How much can cycling reduce your blood pressure?

Cycling can lower your blood pressure by as much as 10 millimeters of mercury (mmHg), which is about the same as some prescribed meds.

It’s also worth pointing out, that with consistent cycling, you take the physical steps needed to reduce the stress of hypertension which can lead to various heart diseases.

11. Elimination Of Toxins

woman cyclist taking a water break

Our bodies experience environmental toxins on a daily basis. These occur as a result of internal chemical processes, as well as the types of foods & beverages we consume.

When these toxins are stored in the body for long periods of time, they can start to create problems and affect our cells & organs.

Can you sweat out toxins in your body?

You can not sweat toxins out of your body. Instead, detox happens through rehydration.

Here’s how it breaks down. Cycling leads to better oxygenation of the body, and to sweating. Sweating releases water from your body, and when you replenish with the proper amounts of water, the body is flushed of unhealthy waste.

The big takeaway here is when you exercise you must make proper hydration a big priority!

Conclusion

The case for starting your cycling journey is very clear & compelling!

Riding your bike is a wonderful & leisurely activity, but we’ve shown here that the benefits of cycling go well beyond just the enjoyment of taking a leisurely ride.

Cycling is also an ideal way to cultivate health & well-being in your life through physical exercise!

Bonus: What Do You Need To Start Riding Right Now?

If you came this far and enjoyed reading this article, but you are still wondering what you need to start cycling right now, I will tell you!

The first tip is to start gradually. It’s important not to overload your body early on. You should plan on improving your physical fitness by gradually increasing your endurance. But be careful, always respect your limits, whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced cyclist.

Now that you know some of the advantages of bike riding and some of what it takes to start in the sport, how about starting practice right now? Find a safe place like a bike path or a quiet residential neighborhood, and enjoy the ride!

What’s Next?

If you enjoyed this article, go check out our article on Parts of a Bike– Bicycle Parts List!

Happy Cycling!

About Informed Cyclist
Michael Rogers
I’m Michael, a cycling fanatic and the founder of Informed Cyclist. I started this site to give back to the sport I love! My mission is to bring the very best cycling advice & know-how to my readers. I hope you enjoy this site as much as I love working on it. I put a lot of heart & effort into it!