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What Does Cycling Do for Your Body and Legs?

author image Clayton Runner
Clayton Runner is a professional writer specializing in health, human anatomy and fitness. He is pursuing a Master of Health in kinesiology from West Virginia University.
What Does Cycling Do for Your Body and Legs?
Cycling works most major muscle groups. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Cycling is an effective low-impact way to stay fit and healthy. It provides many benefits such as increasing strength and endurance, as well as decreasing body fat. Cycling mainly uses the legs but also incorporates upper-body muscles such as the chest, back, biceps, triceps and shoulders for stabilization and performing maneuvers.

Increases Leg Strength

An increase in leg strength is achieved by using a low cadence and high resistance. Cadence refers to how fast the pedals are rotating. To increase leg strength, you should use a cadence below 80 revolutions per minute. Focus on using a gear that provides considerable resistance. For example, on an 18-speed bike, set it in high and fourth gear, high being the largest gear located by the pedals and fourth being the fourth gear outward from the rear wheel.

Increases Leg Endurance

Opposite of increasing leg strength, increasing leg endurance requires a high cadence and low resistance. It is ideal to use a cadence of more than 100 rpm and a relatively low gear. For example, on an 18-speed bike, place it in low and sixth, low being the smallest gear by the pedals and sixth being the sixth gear outward from the rear wheel.

Improves Coordination

Cycling requires the cooperation of most muscles in your body. When you first try to ride a bike, you lack the coordination to ride it and fall off. First, your legs must work in sync to effectively pedal. As one leg is at the bottom of a pedaling motion, the other leg must instantly take over and push down on the opposite pedal. You must be able to maintain balance of the bike using your core and pedal at the same time. Your arms must also work together to hold onto the handlebars and brake.

Decreases Body Fat

Cycling burns a lot of calories, up to 500 in 30 minutes of riding. This will aid in weight loss by potentially creating a calorie deficit. This means if you consume 2,500 calories per day, and burn 500, than that will leave only 2,000 for your body to use for day-to-day function. This means it will revert to burning fat for energy. It takes 3,500 calories to equal 1 lb., so a daily deficit of 500 calories means you can lose 1 lb. per week.

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