8 Reasons to Ride Your Bike More

bike to work

May is national bike month! If you haven’t ridden your bike in a while, some of these benefits may convince you it’s time to lube up your chain, put some air in those tires, and get to work! Below we break down the top 8 reasons to ride your bike more often and increase your general fitness.

8. Improved Time Efficiency

Do you struggle to find time for exercise in your daily life? What if I told you that often times, commuting to work by bike is nearly as fast as a car during rush hour! Exchanging a normally sedentary part of your day for 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise is a great and simple way to improve your health. If you’re not completely sold, give biking to work a shot on national bike to work day, May 19!

7. It’s Easy On Your Joints

Compared to running, cycling has very little impact on your joints. While still getting a good workout, you won’t be subjecting your knees, ankles, and hips to unnecessary pounding.

6. Increased Vitamin D Levels

Riding your bike will force you to spend a few extra hours in the sun, which can lead to improved vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is important for bone health, neuromuscular function, and immune function. Just be sure to wear sunscreen, especially if you are fair skinned like me.

5. Reduce Pollution

The average car trip in America is just under 6 miles. Most people could cover this distance by bike in less than 30 minutes. Deciding to take your bike on shorter trips will reduce the amount of times you have to cold-start your car. Reducing cold-starts is a big player in lowering the amount of harmful emissions being put into the air.

4. You’ll Sleep Better

Along with increased vitamin D levels, the increased sun exposure that comes with cycling can help to calibrate your circadian rhythm. This can lead to falling asleep easier and better sleep quality.

3. Improved Body Composition

Cycling for long periods of time can burn a remarkable amount of calories. In addition, long aerobic efforts can teach your body to be more reliant on fat as a fuel source. Over time, being more reliant on fat as a fuel source can significantly reduce your body fat percentage.

2. Increased Leg Strength

Cycling places a large demand on all of the muscles in the legs. When adding cycling to your training, you can expect to see the biggest increases in your quad, glute, and calf strength.

1. Improved cardiovascular health

Riding a bike is a great way to get your heart rate up. Spending time in the “cardio zone” will lead to all sorts of cardiovascular health benefits including an increased ability to consume oxygen, decreased fat levels in the blood, and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Sample workout plan

Now that you know many of the benefits of cycling, let’s take a look at how to get better at cycling. To improve cycling performance, aim to have at least one workout a week geared towards increasing your aerobic capacity and one geared towards increasing your power output on the bike.

One common approach for building aerobic capacity is long slow distance (LSD). While LSD workouts are effective for building aerobic capacity, few of us have the 15-20 hours of free time necessary for LSD workouts to elicit the intended response. For the busier individual, interval training is a great alternative.

Try this 40-50 minute workout for building your aerobic capacity:

  • 5-10 minute warm up
  • 8 minutes at 70% effort (be able to say 6-8 words before needing a breath)
  • 2 minutes easy spinning
  • 8 minutes at 70% effort
  • 2 minutes easy spinning
  • 5 minutes at 70% effort
  • 5 minutes at 80% effort (4-6 words between breaths)
  • 5-10 minute cool-down

In order to increase your threshold power, you need to spend time applying high levels of power to the pedals. My favorite workout for increasing threshold power is an interval series known as the Russian Steps.

  • Start and end with a 5-10 minute warm up/cool down
  • Aim to complete 3 sets of the following intervals with 5 minutes of easy riding in between

All work intervals should be maximal effort. My rule is if you could send a text message during a rest interval, you need to ride harder.

  • 15 seconds on/45 second recovery
  • 30 seconds on/30 second recovery
  • 45 seconds on/15 second recovery
  • 60 seconds on/60 second recovery
  • 45 seconds on/15 second recovery
  • 30 seconds on/30 second recovery
  • 15 seconds on/45 second recovery

If you want more help developing a training plan to improve cycling performance and general fitness, please contact your local FAST location. Oh, and don’t forget to wear a helmet!

Tyler Karlberg

CSCS | Ahwatukee

Foothills Acceleration and Sports Training (FAST) is empowered by Foothills Therapy Partners (FTP).