Benefits of Cycling

Posted on 22 August, 2023 by Rhys Smith

Top benefits of cycling

  • Bike riders have a 46% reduced chance of developing heart disease and a 45% lower risk of cancer.
  • Those who cycle have 15% fewer sick days compared to those who are physically inactive.
  • Cyclists breathe in a 60% reduced amount of pollutants such as carbon monoxide than motorists.
  • Vehicle users are 5 times more vulnerable to pollution compared to bikers.
  • Cycling to work burns the same amount of fat as working out in the gym for 40 minutes, five days a week.
  • Men workers who bike to their workplace have a lower possibility of being obese or overweight by 39.8% than those who commute.
  • Riding a bike loses 50% more calories than walking.
  • A moderate cycling pace can burn up to 300 calories per hour, depending on the cyclist’s body type.
  • Biking can cut the chance of depression by up to 19%.
  • There is a 21% drop in the all-cause mortality rate of cyclists.
  • The risk of premature death is also lessened by 28% by bicycling.
  • Shifting from vehicle transport to bike saves 150 grammes of CO2 per kilometre or 240 grammes of CO2 per mile.
  • 700 million up to 1.6 billion gallons of fuel is conserved every year through cycling.
  • Bike lanes reduce injury risks on busy roads by 28%.
  • Travelling by car is 6 times more expensive than cycling.
  • Runners experience 404% more muscle damage than bikers.
  • They also suffer 87% more muscle soreness than cyclists.
  • Cycling can yield $96.7 billion in input to the economy every year.
  • The benefits of spending money on cycling infrastructures are 4 to 5 times greater than the cost.

Health benefits of cycling

  • Cyclists face a 52% lower risk of death caused by heart disease compared to vehicle commuters.
  • Bikers have a 40% lesser chance of dying from cancer than those who travel by car.
  • People who commute by bicycle are 46% less likely to have heart disease and a 45% reduced risk of developing cancer.
  • 3 months of cycling can decrease blood pressure by 4.3% while biking for 6 months can reduce it by 11.8%.
  • Switching from commuting to cycling has a 9:1 benefit-to-risk ratio.
  • People who started habitually riding a bike in middle to old age had a 20% lower risk of developing type II diabetes.
  • Boosting bike rides with an additional 4 to 24 minutes a day drops the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease by 14%.
  • Cyclists have 15% fewer ill days than non-cyclists.
  • 80% of patients with knee osteoarthritis reported improved condition upon starting cycling.
  • The leg strength of bicyclists improved by 8% after the first six to eight weeks of riding. 

Benefits of cycling to lung health

  • Bicycling for 170 to 250 minutes every week can significantly boost the health of the lungs.
  • Long-term cycling enhances lung function and increases the maximum lung capacity by 5% to 15%.
  • While cyclists breathe 2 to 3 times more air than motorists, they breathe 60% lower levels of carbon monoxide and other pollutants.
  • Drivers are 5 times more exposed to pollution than cyclists.

Benefits of cycling to weight loss

  • Travelling to work by bike burns as much fat as working out in the gym for 40 minutes five days a week.
  • Daily commuters are more likely to put on weight than cyclists, even if they are physically active.
  • Men who bike to work are 39.8% less likely to be overweight and obese compared to those who travel by car to work.
  • Overweight adolescents who cycled 3 to 4 days a week have 85% odds of having a normal body mass index when they become adults.
  • Adolescents who ride a bike for 8 kilometres per week have less chance of suffering from lower back pains.

How many calories are burned by cycling?

  • Cycling burns 50% more calories than walking.
  • Depending on a person’s body type, moderate cycling can burn up to 300 calories per hour.
  • A 60 kg person biking for an hour at a speed of 8 to 10 mph can burn up to 365 calories.
  • The same person riding for 1 hour at a faster speed of 14 to 16 mph can burn 630 calories.
  • Cycling at a speed faster than 18 mph can make a 60 kg person burn 995 calories.

Speed (in mph)

Calories burned













Mental health benefits of cycling

  • 75% of bike riders reported better mental health ever since they started cycling.
  • 8% of cyclists noted that cycling helped with their depression and anxiety.
  • Cycling can help inactive individuals reduce the threat of depression by up to 19%.
  • A 30-minute cycling session can aid in endorphin production, making cyclists feel more relaxed and less likely to have depression compared to non-cyclists.

Life expectancy of cyclists

  • Men who cycle briskly have a 5.3 years longer lifespan compared to men who cycle submaximally.
  • Women who participate in fast-paced biking are more likely to live longer by 3.9 years than those who perform low-intensity cycling.
  • On the other hand, men who cycle at an average pace have 2.9 more years to live compared to those who bike at a slower rate.
  • Women who ride a bike at a moderate speed have a 2.2-year life expectancy than women who ride at a sluggish pace.
  • Women who cycled to their destinations have a 35% lower chance of dying during their follow-up period.
  • Cycling decreases the all-cause mortality rate by 21%.
  • It also reduces the risk of premature death by 28%. Compared to commuters and drivers, those who bike have a 41% lower chance of early death.

Environmental benefits of cycling

  • Using a bike instead of a car saves around 240 grammes of CO2 per mile. That’s 150 grammes of CO2 per kilometre.
  • 6 to 14 million tonnes of CO2 can be conserved by cycling.
  • Bicycling, instead of driving, can save 700 million up to 1.6 billion gallons of fuel every year.
  • Jacking up the global use of bicycles by 20% can reduce 11% of CO2 emissions caused by urban travelling by 2050.
  • If bikes and e-bikes cover 22% of all commutes made in all cities around the world, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions would decrease by 47% by 2050. 
  • Bicycle-sharing services in 8 cities in America lessened the yearly carbon dioxide output from 41 to 5,417 tonnes.
  • Adding 4 to 24 minutes to your daily bike rides can lessen the emission of greenhouse gases by 14%.
  • In Europe, the equivalent economic value of improved air quality and reduced air pollution caused by cycling is €435 million.

Bicycle lane statistics

  • Having bike lanes on high-traffic roads results in a 28% lower injury risk.
  • Bicycle lanes attract 2.5 times as many cyclists to ride versus the absence of cycling facilities.
  • The presence of bike lanes reduced the number of bikers who do not feel safe cycling by 10%.
  • Building and enhancing cycling facilities result in a 45% decrease in traffic congestion.
  • Over 50% of women in the US would be encouraged to bike more when bike lanes are installed.
  • In South Carolina, 67% of people increased their activity levels upon the installation of the bike and pedestrian lanes.
  • In New Orleans, 57% more people became cyclists after the installation of bike lanes.

Bicycle vs. car statistics

  • It is 6 times more costly to drive than to bike.
  • On average, buying and maintaining a bike only covers 1% to 3% of the costs of buying and maintaining a car.
  • Maintaining a bicycle is 20 times cheaper than maintaining a car.
  • The materials and other resources utilised in manufacturing a car can be used in manufacturing up to 100 bicycles.
  • On average, the annual cost of cycling is between $200 and $340 while the annual cost of driving ranges from $2,800 to $9,600.

Cycling vs. running statistics

Cycling is a low-impact exercise, whereas running is high-intensity.

  • The typical training session for running is 30 to 90 minutes while cycling training sesh are longer, usually 2 to 4 hours. 
  • Running for 2.5 hours per day for 3 days caused 404% more muscle damage compared to cycling.
  • Runners also suffered higher inflammation levels than cyclists by up to 256%.
  • Accordingly, long-distance runners also experienced 87% greater muscle soreness than long-distance cyclists.
  • On average, bikers suffer 6 injuries per 1,000 hours, as opposed to runners who experience 11 injuries per 1,000 hours.

Economic benefits of cycling 

  • Cycling contributes $96.7 billion per year to the economy.
  • The economic value of the health benefits contributed by cycling equates to more than $1.3 billion.
  • Bicycling can generate $2.14 savings per kilometre cycled in mortality, morbidity, and health-related costs.
  • The social benefit of biking is valued at $0.77 per kilometre cycled.
  • Travelling by bicycle every day for 10 kilometres each way to work will result in a $1,700 annual transportation cost savings.
  • Bike parking spaces enable 5 times more retail spending compared to the same parking area occupied by a car.
  • The infrastructure cost of cycling per person per kilometre is only $0.03 compared to $0.11 for cars, $0.16 for buses, and $0.20 for trains.
  • The advantages of investing in cycle networks outweigh the costs by a factor of at least 4 to 5 times.
  • The estimated combined economic value of cycling in the European Union is at least $232 billion.
  • In London, bikers spend 40% more at local businesses than drivers.
  • Cycling-related programmes in the US lead to $133 billion in economic gain, $18 billion in tax revenue, and more than 1 million jobs supported.
  • In Western North Carolina, cycling tourism produces $43 million in income per year.
  • Building bike infrastructures generates 30% more jobs than building only road projects.
  • For every $1 million spent on cycling projects, around 12 local jobs are created.
  • In Minnesota, 1.5% of adult bicycle trips and 5% of children's bicycle trips contribute more than $300 million in fiscal benefits per year.
  • Every mile of vehicle transportation switched to biking saves society an average of 24 cents.
  • Switching 5% of vehicle travels in greater Seattle to cycling can yield the public a $970,000 savings per day in car-related costs.
  • Tripling the number of cyclists would reduce the accident rate involving motorists and bicyclists by 50%.
  • Cycling’s fatality risk is only once per 32 million kilometres or 20 million miles ridden.


Is cycling good for runners?

Yes, cycling can be good for runners when they want a good aerobic workout while giving their joints some rest. However, intense cycling can fatigue leg muscles and shorten stride length, so it isn’t recommended to cycle prior to a run or competitive race. 

Can biking help you sleep better?

Cycling is a great form of aerobic exercise, which has been shown to directly improve overall quality of sleep. In fact, 75% of people that exercise report having “good” or “very good” quality of sleep. In comparison, only 56% of non-exercises reported getting the same quality of sleep.

Can cycling strengthen your bones?

Unfortunately, no. long-term adult cyclists have lower bone mass density on their spine compared to non-cyclists. Cyclists, regardless of gender, are more likely to develop osteoporosis.

Can cycling lead to urinary problems?

Yes, male cyclists are at risk of urethral stricture while female bikers are more prone to developing urinary tract infections.

What happens if you cycle everyday?

If you cycle everyday, you can expect to see positive changes in your body. Some of these benefits include fat reduction, defined muscles in your lower extremities, better cardiovascular function, improved balance and cognitive performance, to name a few.

What body parts benefit from cycling?

The muscles, especially the lower part of your body, are the ones working hard when you go cycling. Specifically, the muscles involved include the gluteus maximus, the quadriceps (vastus medialis, rectus femoris, vastus lateralis), and the hamstrings (semimembranosus, biceps femoris) in the thigh, and the gastrocnemius (medialis, lateralis) and the soleus in the leg.

Sitting on the saddle and maintaining your balance while cycling engages the core muscles of the abdomen as well as the muscles on your back.

Is cycling better than running?

This depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to burn calories but have joint problems, then the low-impact nature of cycling will benefit you. You can also get a good aerobic exercise while biking which is beneficial for your cardiovascular system.

However, if you want to burn more calories at a shorter time or distance, then running would be your best bet since you exert more effort in running, thereby using more energy to move. 

A 155-lb person can burn 422 calories biking at 10mph for an hour. Meanwhile, they burn 1,126 calories going at the same speed running.

Does slow cycling burn fat?

Yes, you can still burn fat even if you’re riding at a slow or leisurely pace, the downside with slow cycling is you have to ride longer to achieve the desired fat burn.

For a 180-lb person who wants to burn 2,000 calories cycling, they need to bike for 6.12 hours on the road if your speed is less than 10 mph. You can burn the same amount of calories in half the time by increasing your speed to 12-13.9 mph.

How does cycling change your body shape?

People may associate cycling with bigger legs but cycling alone can’t bulk up your leg muscles. Cycling tones a person’s butt, thigh and leg muscles, and has been known to produce a more slender figure in cyclists.

There are cyclists with large leg muscles, but they do not acquire it by cycling alone. Most of these beefed up cyclists also spend hours training in the gym to get their leg muscles to bulk up.


Rhys Smith
Rhys Smith
Rhys is an expert in all things cycling and bicycles who at a young age pursued the dream of becoming a professional cyclist by racing for a French and then Belgian road racing team at the Elite level. He is heavily involved in the cycling scene and runs one of Australia’s highest-rated online bicycle parts stores. He’s THE expert when it comes to testing cycling shoes.