Riding a bicycle can make us feel good. Scientific evidence shows that using a bicycle daily as a means of transportation and as a workout brings numerous benefits to the body. Moreover, it helps prevent various diseases, including cardiovascular ones.

Riding a bicycle is an activity within everyone’s reach and can be done at any age. It allows us to maintain good physical shape and contributes to our psychological health, thanks to endorphins released when cycling.

Cycling Is Good for the Heart

The respiratory and aerobic activity required by bicycling causes, when practiced consistently, a moderate increase in cavitary spaces and hypertrophy of the heart walls, thus improving resistance to fatigue and respiratory capacity.

But the benefits to the cardiovascular system do not end there: Cycling also decreases diastolic blood pressure and increases the elasticity of vein walls and blood circulation in the lower limbs, preventing swelling and subsequent fatigue in the circulation.

Cycling helps burn fat and calories (about 600 kcal in an hour of sustained pedaling), thus helping to decrease fat and improve metabolism while keeping cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglyceride levels under control. In this way, the risk of occurrence of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke is mitigated.

Bicycling – thanks to the possibility of varying the effort – is also recommended, in some cases, for patients recovering from heart surgery, obviously at a reduced intensity and under strict medical supervision.

Muscles, Joints, and Bones: All the Benefits of Cycling

The benefits of bicycling also include the protection of the cartilage of hips, knees, and ankles, which are put into use by the rotational motion of pedaling without overloading the joints. In addition, the position one assumes when pedaling also protects the spine, as weight is discharged through the bicycle onto the handlebars and saddle.

The muscles most affected by cycling are the calves, thighs, and buttocks, while the arms, torso, and lower back are still somewhat stimulated. Pedaling while standing helps strengthen the abdominals, too.

From City Commuting to Working Out

Whenever possible, using a bicycle to commute is highly recommended. It allows you to use the commute time for physical activity, spend more time outdoors, and enjoy the sunlight. 

However, if trips of a few kilometers can prove to be a beneficial activity to counteract sedentariness, get the body moving, and control weight – obviously if the practice is constant and always in combination with a healthy diet and a balanced lifestyle – they still cannot be considered a real workout.

To be considered so, one has to stress the body with committed pedaling and a long ride of about 45-60 minutes daily (or more, depending on the level of training).

Who Is Cycling Not Recommended for?

But is bicycling good for everyone? There are circumstances in which extra care should be taken: It is the case of urinary tract infections, acute and chronic inflammatory diseases of the genitals, or hemorrhoids, for example.

In addition, those who are not sufficiently trained may experience excessive strain; this may affect those with cardiovascular disease (who, as we have said, should train under strict medical supervision), but also those affected by herniated discs and lumbosciatica should solve the problem before resuming any cycling activity. In particular, the lumbar spine and sciatic nerve can go into distress if the load is poorly distributed or positions are incorrect.

The advice is to dose your energy according to your fitness and avoid overloads, for example, with the help of a good heart rate monitor. An appropriate bicycle for the route is the first step in avoiding overstrain.