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Is cycling every day bad? The answer is not a straightforward yes or no.
Cycling every day has multiple positive benefits, both physical and mental. However, you should incorporate low-intensity cycling into your routine, and give your body the chance to recover. Also, stop if you feel early signs of strain.
In a nutshell, riding every day can be harmful to some people, and if done in a certain way. There are 4 key factors to consider (coming up in a moment). Many experts will recommend all athletes have at least one rest day per week.
On the other side of the equation, cycling can be super low-intensity, and many people cycle every day of their adult lives.
In this post, I’ll take a look at:
- The factors that influence whether cycling every day is healthy or bad for you
- 6 health factors to consider when cycling every day
Is Cycling Every Day Bad? 4 Factors To Consider
Cycling every day is generally healthy. However, factors such as intensity, speed, distance, and proper recovery can make a significant difference in whether cycling daily is beneficial or harmful.
Let’s discuss each factor in further detail!
1. Cycling Intensity
Cycling intensity plays a significant role in determining whether or not you can cycle every day.
The more intense your rides are, the more stress you put on your muscles, causing inflammation. In that case, riding your bike daily can do more harm than good.
However, what’s intense for some people can be a light warm-up for others, depending on their fitness level. In general, if by daily cycling you mean dawdling to the supermarket, picking up groceries, and then riding back home, chances are you won’t need any rest days.
In fact, those light bike rides are an excellent option for active recovery. The former helps increase blood circulation without putting extra pressure on the sore muscles.
As you might have known, blood flow helps reduce inflammation and deliver nutrients essential for quick muscle recovery.
Now, if your rides involve putting on spandex, an HR monitor, and using a bike computer, it’s likely that you do high-intensity biking.
Of course, such rides challenge your muscles, causing microtears. Don’t be too alarmed, though. Those tiny muscle tears help you build muscle mass, but only when you give your body time to heal. So, you can’t cycle every day.
2. Speed and Distance
Both speed and distance play a role in cycling intensity; thus, whether or not you can ride every day.
For an average biker with a moderate fitness level, riding 12-18 miles daily at a pace of 12-15 miles per hour should be doable.
However, riding 8-10 miles per hour might feel more comfortable for recreational cyclists. Either way, such short distances and slow speeds probably won’t cause injuries.
That said, riding high-intensity cycling isn’t bad for elite cyclists—even when done daily. That’s because covering long distances at maximum speed is a day-to-day activity for pro riders.
Take Tour de France riders, for example. The average speed covered by those cyclists is 25-28 miles per hour. Not to mention, they race over 2,000 miles in about three weeks!
Although elite riders’ bodies are used to such challenging exercise, they usually take 1-2 rest days throughout the event.
For beginners, trying to do the same workout routine as professional cyclists would only lead to injury.
3. How to Take Your Cycling up a Level
You should start at low intensity and work your way up to long distances and fast cycling. Now, the former would vary according to fitness level and ability.
Generally, on an intensity scale of one to 10, an easy pace would be two or three, where you can talk, sing, and communicate without difficulty. A moderate pace should be six or seven; you can speak in short sentences but not hold a conversation.
A high-intensity pace would be eight and above. Usually, you won’t be able to say more than three words before taking another breath.
You can start cycling at an easy pace in week 1, then gradually increase the intensity and duration each week until you’re comfortable riding long distances at a fast speed.
Of course, you should check with your health provider before doing strenuous cycling. That’s to ensure you don’t have any cardiovascular diseases, joint problems, or other chronic health issues that could make the new cycling workout routine unsafe.
Here’s a general progressive cycling workout schedule to increase duration:
|Day 1||Bike for 15 minutes||Easy pace|
|Day 2||Active recovery for 30-60 minutes||Low-intensity exercises|
|Day 3||Bike for 20 minutes||Easy pace|
|Day 5||Bike for 30 minutes||Easy pace|
|Day 6||60 minutes of active recovery||Low-intensity exercises|
|Day 7||Cross-train for 30 minutes||Moderate-intensity exercises, like strength training, hiking, and swimming|
Intense daily cycling can be harmful if you don’t recover properly, and by recovery, we don’t mean rest days only. Getting enough sleep, hydration, and nutrition is also vital.
Aside from active recovery exercises, eat anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods, such as fatty fish, to facilitate muscle repair and ease soreness.
Additionally, always stay hydrated, as water helps flush out toxins. Even when cycling, keep a bottle of water or electrolytes on hand to recover the water lost during the workout.
Plus, make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep, as short sleep duration results in muscle mass reduction. Maintaining those habits keeps your body healthy and helps you cycle daily without injury.
Here’s a brilliant Youtube video from Kinetic Cycle Coaching that suggests ways you can optimize your rest in between cycling sessions:
Now that you know cycling every day isn’t harmful per se, let’s discuss the health benefits of regular bike riding!
1. Increases Cardiovascular Health
Regular cycling increases cardiovascular health and lowers the risk of developing heart disease. Those include high blood pressure, strokes, and high cholesterol.
So, how does riding a bicycle work its health magic?
When you’re in constant motion, like when you cycle, your muscles burn more energy than at rest. The more muscle groups you use simultaneously, the more your body consumes stored energy.
To re-energize, the heart starts beating faster to pump blood. As a result, the increased circulation delivers oxygen to the muscles, helping them perform better.
Over time, those physiological changes during cycling strengthen your heart muscle and lower your resting pulse, improving your cardiovascular health.
2. Improve Lower Body Muscle Strength
As mentioned earlier, cycling challenges the muscles, causing injuries to the fibers.
Your body then repairs the damaged tissues and makes them bigger to sustain higher levels of physical exercise. The former process is known as muscle hypertrophy.
Cycling mainly activates lower body muscles, such as the hamstrings, the quadriceps, and the glutes.
The former are some of the largest and most powerful muscle groups in the body.
So, it’s vital to strengthen your lower body to support healthy movement, proper posture, and overall athletic performance.
3. Help You Lose Weight
Like most physical activities, cycling can help you lose weight and achieve a toned physique.
Around an hour of cycling can help a 155-pound person biking at 12-14 miles per hour burn over 500 calories!
What’s more, research suggests that exercising on an empty stomach in the morning can help you burn 20% more body fat.
Sure, exercise intensity, genetics, age, diet, and other factors contribute to how many calories you burn when cycling. Regardless, you’ll still lose body weight with constant biking.
Cycling, especially outdoors, can help boost mental health in several ways. Here’s how the former exercise can benefit your mental well-being:
- Reduce Stress: Physical exercises, like biking, stimulate the production of endorphins, a neurotransmitter that helps reduce stress and make you feel good.
- Improve mood: Cycling can also help improve your mood by increasing the production of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that regulate mood and emotions.
- Reduce anxiety and depression: Riding your bike regularly can help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms by regulating mood and increasing endorphin production.
- Improve cognitive function: Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, improving cognitive functions like memory, attention, and perception.
Now, cycling in and of itself doesn’t treat joint problems such as osteoarthritis. However, the former exercise is low-impact; it helps strengthen the muscles without stressing the joints.
As you might have guessed, increased muscle strength supports the joints and protects them from injury. Plus, cycling increases blood flow and joint fluid supply around those areas, lubricating the joints and reducing pain.
Since biking involves working both the upper and lower body muscles simultaneously, it can help improve your coordination.
However, those aren’t the only muscle groups cycling activates; it also stabilizes your core because you maintain a forward position when biking. As a result, it improves your balance.
Additionally, cycling improves cognitive functions like spatial awareness and proprioception. The former refers to perceiving your body’s position in relation to its surroundings.
As for the latter, it’s the ability to sense body position and self-movement—both of which are important for coordination and balance.
So, is cycling every day bad?
Generally, no. Cycling every day provides several health benefits, like improving cardiovascular health, muscle strength, balance, and coordination. Additionally, it helps boost mental health and ease joint problems.
However, those benefits are only achievable when you incorporate low-intensity rides into your cycling routine and allow room for your body to recover—doing strenuous biking exercises daily can cause more harm than good.
Whether you’re a casual biker or a seasoned cyclist, always make sure to start at a slow pace and progress from there. That way, you can train your body to cycle daily without risking injury!