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The benefits of cycling

It's an efficient way to add exercise to your daily routine

Two women wearing bicycle helmets laughing as they stop riding for a break
Two women wearing bicycle helmets laughing as they stop riding for a break

Keeping active is essential if you’re keen to stay fit and healthy, with those who meet the recommended daily exercise target of 30 minutes a day less likely to develop chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness and diabetes. But with competing priorities like work, family and social commitments to contend with, most of us (56% of Australians) aren’t managing to fit it in.

If you’re struggling to keep active, one of the most time-efficient ways to combine regular exercise with your everyday routine is to jump on a bike. Cycling is a great low-impact workout that also doubles as a way to get from A to B.

Personal trainer and wellness coach Kristy Curtis stresses that for the time poor, even just 10 minutes of cycling a day is better than nothing.

“Over the course of the year, that adds up to 60 hours, which is significant over time,” she says. “It’s enough to shift your energy on a busy day and enough to get the blood moving and get you feeling good.”

Related: 6 easy ways to achieve daily exercise goals

A man wearing headphones and sunglasses stands in front of his bicycle

What are the health benefits of cycling?

Increasing your daily activity levels is a great way to stay mentally well and live a longer, healthier life. Even a quick cycle to work or the shops can raise your heart rate enough to make a positive impact.

The health benefits of cycling 15 minutes a day include:

  • Increased cardiovascular fitness for a healthier heart

  • Stronger and healthier muscles, bones and joints

  • Reduced stress

  • Better coordination

  • Decreased body-fat levels

  • Reduced anxiety and depression.

Unlike other sports, cycling doesn’t require high levels of physical skill, making it accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Most people know how to ride a bike – an estimated one billion people ride bicycles every day for transport, recreation and sport – and even if you haven’t touched a bike since childhood, knowing how to cycle will come back to you quickly. Remember, it’s just like…

How long before I start seeing some benefits?

It only takes two to four hours a week of moderate exercise to improve your health, with physical changes usually noticeable in anywhere from eight to 12 weeks.

As far as the fitness benefits of cycling go: “Results are dependent on how often you are training, the type of training and the intensity of your training, among other factors,” explains Kristy.

Related: Aerobic exercises to improve your health

Is cycling suitable for everyone?

What makes cycling so suited to people of most ages and fitness levels is that sessions can be as intense or gentle as you like. Being low impact, riding a bike causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise and can be built up to a demanding physical workout.

It’s also fun – whether recreational, as a mode of transport or for fitness – which makes it more likely that you’ll keep at it.

“Pick an activity that you have some interest in as you will stick with it long term,” advises Kristy. “There’s no point starting swimming if you don’t like the water – and it’s the same deal for cycling.”

If you’re sold on the whole cycling for fitness idea, make sure you get the all-clear from your doctor before you get on your bike – especially if you have heart disease, arthritis or any bone-related complaints.

Whether you’re new to exercise or training for a half marathon, check out The Check Up’s dedicated fitness section for more expert tips to help you achieve your goals.

Please note: The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you have been given by your medical practitioner.

About Kristy Curtis

Kristy Curtis is one of Australia and Asia’s leading wellness experts. She discovered her passion for fitness at a young age and has since transformed that passion into a career, with a successful personal training business and as a TV presenter. Kristy strongly believes while there are some things in life you can’t control, you can take ownership and responsibility of your health through eating good food, thinking positively and keeping your body moving. Every night before bed, Kristy completes a sudoku puzzle.

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