Effects of Bicycling on the Body

Bicycling can be one of the best aerobic workouts you can do to improve your cardiovascular health, muscular endurance and strength. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends most healthy adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity. Biking is a way to achieve the suggested amount of aerobic activity and have fun, too. There are, however, some risks associated with biking to be cognizant of.

Bicycling can strengthen your heart. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Improve Your Cardiovascular Health

Riding a bike gives you the same cardiovascular benefits as any other aerobic exercise. Your cardiovascular health refers to your heart and blood vessels. Jonathan Myers, a doctor in exercise and cardiovascular health, states that people who get 30 minutes of modest activity a day, such as cycling, will experience benefits linked to cardiovascular health. This includes an increase in exercise tolerance, weight loss, lower blood pressure, reduction in bad cholesterol, increase in good cholesterol and increase in insulin sensitivity.

Moderate and Intense Aerobic Exercise

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bicycling is an effective way of getting the suggested amount of moderate or intense aerobic exercise each week for optimal health. During a moderate aerobic workout, your heart rate goes up, you break a sweat, and your breathing quickens but not so much that you can't carry on a conversation. During an intense aerobic workout, your heart rate goes up quite a bit, you sweat, and your breathing is deep enough that you cannot easily carry on a conversation.

Strengthen Your Muscular System and Endurance

According to the Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation, a week of inactivity can reduce the strength of your muscles up to 50 percent. Bicycling activates most of your body's muscles. As you pedal, you use your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, shin and calf muscles. Your abdomen and back muscles stabilize your body, and your shoulder and arm muscles support your body at the handlebars. The harder you pedal and the more hills you climb, the more you will strengthen your muscular system and build endurance.

The Benefits Versus the Risks of Biking

NPR reported a study that was conducted by the Institute for Exercise and Sports Sciences at the University of Copenhagen; the study found that among 30,000 people living in Copenhagen over 14 years, those who biked to work lowered their risk of death compared to sedentary people. NPR reported numerous other scientific studies around the world also showing that biking lowers people's risk of death. Biking on the street can be risky, however; according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, bike riders account for 2 percent of traffic deaths.

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