It’s probably not the best idea to be hitting your local gym right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay active! Biking is an activity that you can do from the comfort of your home or outside, far away from anyone else. Making biking a habit can do some wonderful things for your body:
Pushing pedals provides an aerobic workout, says a contributor for the Harvard Health Newsletter, which triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals. Aerobic exercise can have a load of other benefits, too, according to the Mayo Clinic: reduced risk of heart disease, increased life expectancy, weight loss, and more!
Using CDC data from over one million Americans, one study found that cycling was the second most effective type of exercise at decreasing one’s self-reported mental health burden, with team sports being the most effective (That’s not really possible right now, though). “Any mild-to-moderate exercise releases natural feel-good endorphins that help counter stress and make you happy,” says Andrew McCulloch of the Mental Health Foundation, but apparently cycling does it better.
When you bike, you put your weight on a pair of bones in the pelvis called the ischial tuberosities, unlike walking when you put your weight on your legs. “That makes it good for anyone with joint pain or age-related stiffness,” says Dr. Clare Safran-Norton, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. And, says Whittney Thoman, a senior exercise physiologist in MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center, “Cycling strengthens the muscles around the joint, which helps support the knee.”
Cycling can build muscle in your glutes, thighs, and calves. You also have to engage your core muscles to stay upright. “The benefits carry over to balance, walking, standing, endurance, and stair climbing,” says Dr. Safran-Norton “Resistance activities, such as pushing pedals, pull on the muscles, and then the muscles pull on the bone, which increases bone density.” All of this creates an overall healthier body.
The top 5 benefits of cycling Harvard Health