Cycling has a multitude of benefits regardless of the time of day you decide to ride. However, there is something extra special about gearing up and hitting the roads before the sun rises.
Even if you’re not a morning person, we highly recommend incorporating the occasional morning ride into your routine. Cycling in the morning has a multitude of benefits, and can be a great habit that promotes overall health, well-being, and happiness.
In this article, we are going to cover 16 benefits of cycling in the morning. These are:
- It Gets Your Brain Fired Up For the Day
- It Burn More Calories
- It Will Boost Your Metabolism
- It Can Be Meditation
- It Can Give You Some Alone Time
- It Will Give You A Sense Of Accomplishment
- You’ll See, Hear, and Smell Things You Wouldn’t Normally Experience
- You’ll Have More Energy For Your Workout
- It Leads To Healthier Choices Throughout The Day
- It Helps You Focus
- It Increases Serotonin And Dopamine
- It Reduces Stress
- It Give Your Immune System A Boost
- It Provides a Technology Detox
- There is Reduced Direct Sunlight Exposure
- It Is A Great Way To Commute
Let’s dive a bit deeper into these 16 benefits, and we may just convince you to hit the road before your first cup of coffee.
1. It Gets Your Brain Fired Up For the Day
You know that feeling when you’ve just woken up, but your brain hasn’t quite “turned on” all the way yet? Cycling can be a great way to get those brain waves firing so that you are ready to conquer the day ahead.
When we first wake up, our brains are in what is known as the alpha state. In this state, your brain waves are “pulsing” at a lower frequency. The alphas state is where our brains tend to settle when we’re doing tasks that require little or no attention or effort.
Some examples include: washing dishes, brushing your teeth, or sleeping.
However, our brains can also function in a beta state. This state is characterized by higher-frequency brain waves. A brain in a beta state is essentially on high-alert, ready to give attention or act in response to stimuli. It’s the brain state that allows you to make better decisions, and to give tasks your full focus.
So what is one of the best ways to get your brain into a beta state? As it turns out, exercise is one of the most predictable and efficient ways we can switch our minds from alpha to beta.
In other words, cycling in the morning might just get your brain ready to take on the day.
2. It Burns More Calories
If you’ve been around the fitness world at all, you have probably heard of the term “fasted cardio”. Fasted cardio is the practice of performing cardiovascular exercise while the body is lacking food to use as energy.
Fortunately, there is no special strategy to getting yourself into a fast. Our bodies enter this state every morning when we wake up, since most people go without food for 8 hours during our sleep.
Research suggests that the body actually taps into its fat reserves more while working out in a fasted state than it does when it is not in a fasted state. If fat loss is one of your cycling goals, consider incorporating a fasted, early morning ride into your fitness routine.
3. It Will Boost Your Metabolism
Did you know that cardiovascular exercise is one of the best ways to give your metabolism a boost?
Cycling is great for revving up your fat-burning engine. Regular morning rides will help your body become more adept at using food and fat for fuel, helping you combat unwanted weight gain.
As a bonus, try some hill repeats or bike sprints for an added metabolic boost. There is scientifically backed evidence to show that high intensity interval training, or HIIT, can increase metabolism and continue to burn calories throughout the day. This will allow your body to keep burning fat hours after you’ve stopped exercising.
4. Cycling Can Be Meditation
If you’re an avid cyclist, then you probably are familiar with the calm, almost zen-like state you can enter while on your bike. Studies have shown that riding a bike can put the brain in a meditative state.
The benefits of meditation are vast, but there is scientifically backed evidence to show that the practice can have the following positive effects:
- Reduces anxiety and stress
- Improves your focus
- Increases feelings of well-being and happiness
- Decreases blood pressure
Many health professionals tout meditation is an important practice to include in your everyday routine, and some consider it as important as exercise or a healthy diet. By cycling early in the morning, consider this killing two-birds-with-one-stone.
5. It Can Give You Some Alone Time
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, sometimes it’s great to have a little bit of alone time. Getting up early for a ride is a chance to enjoy some time to yourself.
Allowing yourself some alone time can have the following benefits:
- It improves your creativity
- It improves your sense of self-awareness
- It provides an opportunity to think through problems
- It gives clarity on decision making
- It allows yourself to mentally recharge
- It increases feelings of happiness and contentment
There are even those that argue that alone time can help make you a more compassionate, empathetic person. [Source]
Not only are these benefits an excellent reason to seek out regular alone time, but paired with the physical benefits of cycling, it is clear why it is a good morning habit.
6. It Will Give You A Sense Of Accomplishment
Setting cycling goals is a great way to motivate yourself to push yourself and improve. Setting apart some time for yourself in the morning to hit these goals is a great way to boost your sense of accomplishment, and make you feel a sense of pride in achieving something challenging.
Conquering a challenge or achieving a difficult goal first thing in the morning will set a positive tone for the rest of the day. The good feelings you’ll get from achieving your goals early in the day will be a catalyst to work towards other tasks you may have set for yourself.
It may sound like a stretch, but perhaps smashing that KOM or conquering that hill will also help you get that promotion at work!
7. You’ll See, Hear, and Smell Things You Wouldn’t Normally Experience
Riding your bike in the morning is a great way to see your surroundings through a different lens than you normally do. If you venture out early before the rest of the world has woken up, you might be surprised by some of the things you encounter. This can be true whether you ride wooded trails or urban streets.
Animals that may sleep during the day may be out of their dens and actively moving about. Plants may start to open and unfurl in the first rays of the sun.
Without the distraction of heavy traffic or people milling around, you might notice different buildings, natural features, or other parts of your surroundings you’ve never paid attention to before.
Many people witness a sunset on a regular basis, but far fewer take the time to wake up early enough to see a sunrise. A bright, pink sunrise can be an entrancing sight, especially if viewed from the vantage point of a scenic trail or road.
The morning is full of sounds and smells you may not get a chance to experience otherwise. Take some time to really observe the differences in your surroundings, and be present with your environment.
8. You’ll Have More Energy For Your Workout
When you wait until the end of the day to work out or ride, you may not have the energy to give it a maximum effort. When you ride in the morning however, you’ll have a full tank of gas to power through your workout, since you won’t have burned it up on your day’s tasks.
Consider riding in the morning on days when you want to push yourself a little harder. You may be surprised to find that you can ride longer, push a higher cadence, or give a stronger effort than you would have if you had waited until the end of the day to ride.
You may find that these extra-hard morning workouts will start improving your fitness at a faster rate. Using this extra morning energy is a great workout-hack, and can even help you overcome a performance plateau.
9. It Leads To Healthier Choices Throughout The Day
Sometimes, the best way to kickstart a healthy day is to begin with a workout. Getting a good ride in before doing anything else can make it easier to keep making healthy choices throughout the day.
The reason this works is because our brains are wired to keep things going in streaks. If the first choice you make on a day is a good one, then you may find yourself inspired to continue making positive choices throughout the day.
10. It Can Help You Focus
In the hyper-stimulated world that we live in, sometimes just staying focused on the task at hand can be a challenge. For many people, the inability to focus can be exacerbated by having too much pent-up energy. For people who work at desks or on a computer all day, this may be especially true.
In the same way that a dog or child cannot be expected to behave if they have been cooped up inside all day and forced to sit still, the same can be true for adults.
Pent-up energy may manifest itself as the inability to sit down, focus, and get work done. Riding your bike, and getting out some of that excess energy early in the day may lead to overall improvement in your ability to focus, and will keep you ready to tackle the day’s tasks.
11. Increases Serotonin And Dopamine
At the chemical level, feelings of well-being and happiness come down to two hormones: serotonin and dopamine. While everyone’s brain produces these chemicals in varying quantities, riding your bike is a great way to encourage your brain to make more of these “happy hormones.”
Research suggests that the target length of time for maximum mental benefits from cycling should be from 30-60 minutes of moderate intensity riding. This amount of exercise is enough to keep your body from going into a state of distress, while exerting it enough to stimulate the release of beneficial hormones.
And while cycling is no replacement for medication or treatment, it has been shown that partaking in physical activity consistently over a long period of time can help stave off depression and other mental-health illnesses [Source].
12. It Reduces Stress
Not only can morning exercise help you feel happier overall, it may also help curb feelings of stress and anxiety. While the exact neurological reasons for this are still being explored, researchers think that it has largely to do with the release of certain hormones during exercise.
When the brain is in a state of stress, it’s ability to reason, focus, and relax are all compromised. When stressed, you may find yourself fixating on the same thoughts over and over, and may find it difficult to step back and see the situation objectively.
Because cycling requires some degree of focus (unless you want to run off the road or into a car,) it gives your brain an opportunity to break from these cyclical thoughts. Going for a bike ride is an excellent way to take your mind out of that state of stress, and see your situation from a more rational perspective.
13. It Give Your Immune System A Boost
Exercise is a great way to boost your body’s ability to stave off illness. Research suggests that your immune system can be measurably increased by incorporating regular exercise into your routine.
Because cycling is a great form of exercise, it’s also an awesome way to keep your immune system functioning in tip-top shape.
As a bonus, it has been shown that exposure to early morning sunlight helps reset your body’s circadian rhythm. Studies have shown a link between a healthy immune system and your circadian rhythm, so incorporating a few early morning rides into your routine is an excellent measure to keep yourself healthy [Source].
14. It Provides a Technology Detox
Chances are, you spend a good portion of your day staring at a screen. Whether it’s your computer, tablet, smartphone, or even in your car, screens are almost unavoidable.
There is increasing evidence that all of this screen-time is damaging to our mental, physical, and emotional health. And while many people want to take a break from technology, there is no doubt that the addictive nature of these devices can make this easier said than done.
Heading out on a bike ride may be one of the best ways to give yourself a break from the constant bombardment of screens. Not only will your hands be occupied with operating your bicycle, but your attention will be required to be on the road or on the trail.
Setting aside at least thirty minutes to an hour every morning to ride is a great way to give your brain respite from technology, and can be an excellent way to give it the “reset” it needs.
15. There is Reduced Direct Sunlight Exposure
Despite the many benefits of exercising in an outdoor environment, one of the drawbacks is the exposure to direct sunlight. Direct exposure to high ulra-violet (UV) radiation is a leading cause of skin cancer, as well as premature aging and skin damage.
Fortunately, the sun’s rays are significantly less intense in the early morning hours of the day. Most of the sun’s radiation occurs between 10am and 4 pm, so getting out for an early morning ride will allow you to reap the benefits of outdoor exercise while minimizing the risk to these harmful rays [Source].
16. It Is A Great Way To Commute
Despite the growing trend of remote work, there are still plenty of professions that require working from a designated office or work place. If you’re someone who still has to physically show up to work in the morning, perhaps you should consider forgoing the car and taking the bike to work.
Instead of sitting in morning traffic, spending money on gasoline and adding wear-and-tear to your car, you could trade that in for a much lower impact form of transportation. Plus, who wouldn’t want to trade burning gasoline for burning fat?
There are many reasons to consider riding your bicycle in the morning. Riding early in the day has a host of benefits, and can be an excellent habit for those looking to improve their physical and mental health.
Although we can’t promise that waking up to your early alarm without hitting snooze will be easy, we can tell you that if you make the effort to occasionally fit in an early ride, you’ll be glad you did.