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14 benefits of cycling that will make you want to invest in a bike

From Zwift to spin class, the health benefits of cycling abound

cycling© Photo: iStock
Bridie Wilkins
Senior Health & Fitness Writer
Updated: January 13, 2022
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The coronavirus pandemic has triggered unprecedented investment in cycling around Europe. According to the BBC, more than £907million has been spent on cycling-related infrastructure while 1,400 miles of new bike lanes have been rolled out, but it's a wonder why it hasn’t happened sooner. The benefits of cycling run the gamut from cardiovascular health to stress management and everything in between. Here are the ones to take note of…

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What are the benefits of cycling?

1. Low impact

As opposed to running, cycling isn’t weight bearing, meaning injury rates are considerably lower. A past experiment showed that runners suffered 133-144 per cent more muscle damage and 256 per cent more inflammation than cyclists. That said, injury can crop up if you fail to get an accurate bike fit. It's also key to make form a focus i.e. you exert equal energy through each leg, your torso is balanced and your back is straight.

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2. Grow your social circle

Cycling culture is an incredibly sociable one. Join a socially-distanced club in real life, or compete against friends using virtual apps such as Zwift or Peloton.

3. Get better sleep

You don’t need us to tell you that exercise is the answer to tiring yourself out in aid of a solid sleep, but scientists have proven that cycling is particularly effective in improving cardiorespiratory health which, in turn, guarantees you a good night's kip.

4. Build muscle and burn fat

Resistance (both virtual and from outdoor inclines) will build muscle of the quads, glutes and calves. The more muscle mass you have, the easier it is to burn fat.

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5. Improve cardiovascular health

Cycling is an aerobic activity, meaning your heart, lungs and blood vessels all get a workout. Over time, this will reduce your blood pressure and resting heart rate.

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Indoor vs outdoor cycling

cycling outdoors© Photo: iStock

Outdoor and indoor cycling can bring about different benefits

Benefits of indoor cycling

6. Social distancing

Solitude trumps socialising where the coronavirus pandemic is concerned, but indoor cycling is an easy win when it comes to spending time with friends without putting yourself or others at risk. Zwift and Peloton are both great apps that have built a global community where you can connect with your own friends, or make new ones by competing and motivating each other. Once gyms reopen with spin classes, bikes will also be positioned accordingly.

7. Less chance of injury

Although we'd hope not, outdoor cyclists run the risk of injury from other cyclists or cars. Beginners may feel more comfortable starting out with an indoor spin bike.

8. Difficulty is in your control

Beginners may also benefit from indoor cycling since you are in control of both resistance and speed. On the other hand, outdoor cycling can come with unexpected variables such as high winds, uneven terrain or steep hills.

9. Motivation from instructors

If you're in the market for an indoor training app, most come with virtual instructors who will give you guidance and tips, as well as cheers of support when you need it. Likewise, studio spin instructors wouldn’t be spin instructors without spurring you on.

10. Convenience and affordability

Having your own spin bike while gyms remain closed is just about as convenient as convenience gets. What's more, you won't need to invest in a helmet or visibility clothing.

Benefits of outdoor cycling

11. Improve navigation skills

While many of us rely on the likes of Ways and Google Maps to get around via car, cycling gives us the incentive to sharpen our sense of direction whether we like it or not.

12. Get a fresh perspective

In contrast to driving, cycling will open up new roads and routes that you may have previously neglected. 

13. Transport

If there's one positive to come from coronavirus, it's quiet roads. Taking into account safety precautions, cycling can be a quick method of transport that's good for both you and the environment.

14. Improve mental health

Science shows that spending time in nature can noticeably improve your mood and reduce stress. It's said that green spaces encourage feelings of calm.


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