Is Bike Riding Good Exercise?

Is Bike Riding Good Exercise?
Whether you're commuting to work or tearing up the trail, bike riding can be an effective form of exercise. Even light to moderate levels of riding can reduce the risk of disease, lower health care costs and improve your quality of life.

Aerobic Exercise

The American Council on Exercise defines aerobic conditioning as "the ability of the heart, lungs and circulatory system to supply oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles." To achieve the benefits of aerobic endurance, make it your goal to ride between 20 to 60 minutes at least three times a week.

Calories Burned

According to the American Heart Association, a 150-pound person expends 240 calories (at 6 miles per hour) to 410 calories (at 12 miles per hour) while riding a bike. Adding hills and rugged terrain increases the burn.

Muscles Worked

Pedaling strengthens the quadriceps, calves, hips and buttocks, without putting a lot of stress on the joints. Adding clips to your pedals creates greater resistance for the hamstrings, and mountain biking and spinning work additional muscles in the upper body and core (abs and back).

Riding Outdoors

Spinning and stationary cycling can be effective forms of exercise, but to reap even greater benefits try taking your workout outside. Riding outdoors boosts vitamin D levels (from sunlight), relieves stress and can help with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children.

Risk of Injury

Wear your helmet, and ride with caution. A 12-month study conducted at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in the United Kingdom found that almost half of all biking injuries were fractures, mostly to the collarbone and shoulder. Head and neck injuries were also common.

Article Written By Kimberly A. Laux

For more than 12 years, Kimberly Laux has written features for several print and online publications, including "The Flint Journal," "Real Detroit Weekly," "FAITH" and university websites. She earned a master's degree in communication and teaches at the University of Michigan-Flint. Laux is certified through the American Council on Exercise.

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