May is National Bike Month, and a great excuse to hit the road on two wheels. Not like you need one! More than 52 million Americans rode a bike in 2022. Clearly, the sport you probably loved as a child has matured into a popular recreational activity for all ages.
The pandemic caused a bicycling boom that’s still playing out today. More American cities are building out their bike-friendly infrastructure, and bike styles from mountain bikes to gravel bikes, indoor stationary bikes to e-bikes are all growing in sales and popularity.
Another reason the bike boom is here to stay? Riding a bike has a ton of great health benefits. As more people search for ways to improve their health, biking has become an increasingly popular form of exercise.
It’s a great transportation method too. Every May, cities around the world celebrate Bike to Work Day, Bike to Work Week, and Bike to Work Month, encouraging people to ditch their cars and commute by bike instead. It’s a great way to bookend your work day.
Whether you’re biking to work or biking for fun, you’ll get plenty of health benefits from your two-wheeled adventures. Here are some of the health benefits of biking.
Biking is a great way to boost your cardiovascular health. When you hop on a bike and start pedaling, your heart rate increases, which means your ticker is working harder to pump oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout your body.
This increased heart rate can strengthen your heart muscle, making it more efficient at delivering oxygen to your muscles and organs, too. Triple win!
Research has shown that cycling can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke. It can also lower your levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and boost the “good” cholesterol (HDL).
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, people who bike regularly have a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease than those who don’t. The study found that regular bikers had a 31% lower risk.
Another health benefit of biking is managing your weight. Biking is a fun and effective way to burn calories and shed unwanted pounds. You can burn between 400 and 1,000 calories per hour, depending on your riding intensity, body type, and the terrain.
In fact, according to the American Council on Exercise, a 150-pound person can burn up to 500 calories in an hour of moderate cycling.
Besides burning calories, cycling can help boost your metabolism and build muscle, which can lead to increasing levels of calorie burn when you’re exercising. Biking can also help control your appetite, and maintain a healthy weight. Just remember, consistency is key.
Not only is biking good for cardiovascular health, it helps build strength in your core and lower body muscles, The pedaling motion of cycling engages your legs, glutes, and core muscles, providing a low-impact way to strengthen these areas.
As you pedal, the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles in your legs contract to push the pedals around, further building strength and endurance. Your glutes play a key role in pedaling during uphill climbs or high-intensity riding. When you’re powering your bike forward, your lower body is working in harmony.
Cycling engages your core muscles too, which helps keep your body stable and balanced on the bike. Your obliques and abs support your bike posture, and your back and core muscles strengthen in turn.
As a low-impact form of aerobic exercise, biking gets your heart pumping without putting too much stress on your joints. No shin splints or foot tendonitis here. Because biking is a non-weight-bearing exercise, it’s easier on your joints than running.
Biking can actually strengthen your knees, and improve your joint fluidity. If you’ve had issues before with your knees or ankles, a bike may be the way to go.
The older we get, the more important joint health becomes for our quality of life. It can help us maintain our independence, as we’re able to get around on our own.
In addition to the physical health benefits, biking can improve your mental health. Exercise in general has shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and biking is no exception. Biking can help adolescents have higher levels of self-esteem, and employees be more happy at work.
Biking starts your morning off with a boost of endorphins, and come the evening ride home, you’ll ride like the wind is at your back.
So why not try biking to work? You’ll be reaping the many health benefits of this great form of exercise while helping the environment, too.
Getting into the healthy habit of biking to work is as easy as … riding a bike.