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Key Health Benefits Of Cycling

Updated on June 19, 2013
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Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist as well as being a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

Cycling Is Great Fun- And Healthy Too!

Cycling is great fun and can have some fantastic health benefits
Cycling is great fun and can have some fantastic health benefits | Source

We All Know There Are Some Fantastic Cycling Health Benefits

Cycling is a great way for many people to travel. It can provide a rush of adrenaline or a simple way to get to work each day. It's not all about Lycra and painful looking saddles. Cycling can be a great activity for our health and fitness.

We all know that cycling is a great activity for our health and fitness but exactly what are the benefits of bicycling and how can it improve your health?

Fitness can be broken down into three areas which cycling can have an impact upon

  1. Physiological Fitness
  2. Psychological Fitness
  3. Sociological Fitness

While many of the health benefits of cycling detailed below are not exclusive to cycling: Living a healthy and active lifestyle can have fantastic results long-term.

Cycling Benefits Your Cardiovascular Fitness

We all need a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.

Your cardiovascular fitness the ability to provide oxygenated blood around your body for your muscles to perform. The key organs as part of this are the lungs for bringing oxygen into the bloodstream and the heart for pumping oxygenated blood around the body.

Cycling can help to raise exercise heart rate and put strain on the heart to encourage it to develop in it's strength and stroke volume. This leads to improved efficiency in providing oxygen to your muscles and body tissues.

Improvements to your cardiac (heart) health can lead to a decreased risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD).

Cycling Benefits Fact- Cycling can help cut your risk of Coronary Heart Disease by 50% just by cycling 20 miles a week. Thats just a couple of hours riding in total so is well within the reach of many (Source British Medical Association)

Cycling Can Help You Lose Weight And Cut Your Diabetes Risk

We all know that exercise is great for our waistline and help us stay in good shape. An hour of cycling can burn anything from 300-1000 calories depending on how hard you're pushing and typical 45 minute spin cycling class can burn around 500 calories or more if you're really putting the effort in.

You have to factor a healthy lifestyle and diet into the equation as well but the great thing is that once you've lost weight, cycling can help you to keep in shape and not pile the pounds back on.

If you're overweight you have an increased of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is as a result of the body's inability to effectively use the hormone insulin to break down glucose from food and can lead to further risk factors for many other medical conditions.

A great benefit of weight loss with the aid of cycling is a reduced risk of contracting Type 2 Diabetes and lower risk factors for many other health problems.

You Don't Need To Be A Pro For Better Health Benefits From Cycling

You don't need to be a Pro like Tony Martin (pictured) to get health benefits from cycling
You don't need to be a Pro like Tony Martin (pictured) to get health benefits from cycling | Source

Cyclists Live A Longer Life

We all know that exercise is good for us. A healthy heart and body can greatly extend your lifespan and you can be fitter through those extra years too. Why?

Adults that take part in regular physical activity and there is a huge wealth of evidence in medical journals that Yet taking regular exercise can help to delay and prevent age-related health problems such arthritis and osteoporosis.

Even if you're a couch potato now- you can still reap substantial benefits from cycling in years to come.

Cycling Can Have A positive Effect On Your DNA Makeup

Regular exercise can help influence your DNA behaviour. Your DNA stores your genetic makeup and any predisposition to medical problems. Some of those DNA related medical problems can improve their muscle efficiency and boost cell metabolism simply through a twenty minute workout.

Exercise can lead to epigenetic modifications. These are modifications to the human genome. In scientific terms they do not result in changes to the nucleotide sequence of our DNA. They lead to altered genetic functions expressions through alterations in the chemical marks of our DNA.

Cycling Has Some Great Benefits

Cycling is great for your muscles and their coordination
Cycling is great for your muscles and their coordination | Source

Cycling Can Benefit Your Health By Increasing Muscle Tone

Cycling is excellent exercise if you're looking to improve your muscle tone. You can target your legs, stomach and bum with cycling as well as improving mobility around your hip and knee joints.

The muscle action during cycling challenges your muscles to overcome resistance which can lead to muscle toning as a result. Cycling gives a large number of your muscles a great workout whether you're looking for increased fitness or a more toned physique.

Cycling challenges your muscles to get stronger and the endurance nature adds tonality to your muscles as they recover and improve. A it's a non weight-bearing exercise there's much less risk on your joints than alternatives such as running too!

Cyclists Live Longer Lives

Cycling is a great way to achieve positive health and fitness. Regular cyclists have been proven to live longer than those who lead a sedentary life and also tend to lead healthier livestyle. (Paffenbarger, et al 1986) A great benefit of cycling.

Cycling Promotes A Stronger Immune System

We rely upon our immune system to protect our body from pathogens, infections and diseases that provide risks to our long term health. Recreational exercisers in activities such as cycling and running experience fewer colds throughout their lifetime as the exercise can boost your immune system response

Unfortunately intense exercise can temporarily increase the health risks of exercise. Over the long term this can lead to immune system suppression and over-training however this is mainly seen in high level athletes.

The potential reductions in levels of depression and psychological stress that cycling can lead to also help to promote a stronger immune system.

It's Not All Black And White In Cycling

The benefits of cycling are not black and white and vary between exercisers. Pictures a VC Bread And Bitter Rider during a time-trial event
The benefits of cycling are not black and white and vary between exercisers. Pictures a VC Bread And Bitter Rider during a time-trial event | Source

Cycling Can Help Your Psychological Fitness

Getting regular exercise is a great way to tackle stress and benefit your psychological fitness.

Many commuters comment that by the time they've cycled home from work and showered after a long day in the office it actually feels like the weight has lifted off their shoulders. Cycling is a great way to reduce your psychological 'baggage' within your life.

Cycling can help you to produce feel-good hormones like adrenaline and serotonin to raise your mood and reduce depression.

Cycling Benefits Your Muscular System

When we cycle we use close to every single muscle within our legs during each pedal revolution. Combine that effect with the stabilising requirements of our core and back muscles, with the control required from the muscles of our upper body and you have a pretty good full body workout.

Regular cycling helps to strengthen all of these groups of muscles helping to improve your fitness and the health of your musculo-skeletal system. These effects can even help to guard against the decreases in mobility seen with ageing.

Are There Any Benefits Of Cycling We've Missed Off?

What do you think to this article? Is there anything we've missed?

We'd love to know your comments on this hub in the section below.

Thanks for reading and happy cycling

Liam Hallam

Great Sources Of More Information And References

Oja P et al (2011)Health benefits of cycling: a systematic review. Scand J Med Sci Sports 21, 496-509

Paffenbarger RS, Hyde RT, Wing AL, Hsieh CC, 1986. Physical activity, all-cause mortality, and longevity of college alumni. New England Journal of Medicine 1986;314:605-61


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    • capon profile image

      Tony Capon 

      6 years ago from Upminster, Essex, United Kingdom

      Hello Liam, going back to January 2010, I was diagnosed with Leukaemia (I've put details on my profile). I have always wondered just how I benefited throughout this illness from my fitness derived from many years of riding and racing bikes. Any answers? Tony


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