What Does 30 Minutes of Cycling Do to Your Body?

Daniel Kamensky

March 14, 2023

Cycling is a great calorie-burning workout that can be done anywhere, anytime. It’s a low-impact activity and an excellent option for people who have joint pain or are just starting out with exercise. Cycling has many benefits, including weight loss and a healthier heart. It’s also a great way to improve your fitness and build muscle.

Burns calories

Cycling is a great way to burn calories and keep fit. It can be done indoors on a stationary bike or outdoors on a road bike.

When you cycle, your muscles convert oxygen from your lungs into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the primary energy molecule your cells use for fuel.

Harvard Medical School notes that a 155-pound person riding at 14 to 15.9 mph for 30 minutes will burn 372 calories.

Moderate cycling improves your body’s ability to mobilize stored fat, which will help you lose weight. However, you can only sustain this system for so long, says Rachel DeBusk CPT, a Seattle triathlete coach.

Strengthens muscles

Cycling is a low-impact exercise ideal for people who want to improve their strength and increase muscle tone. It can help you train harder, maintain the intensity of your resistance training, and make more progress in fat loss and muscle gain without the adverse effects of running or other high-impact cardio exercises, says Natalie Qayed, NASM-certified personal trainer and owner/master instructor at Cycle Haus Nashville.

Cycling uses your quads, calves, and glutes during the down stroke of the pedal, while hamstrings, adductors, and soleus work on the upstroke. As a result, many cyclists can exert power further around the pedal stroke, compared to non-cyclists, according to physiotherapist Phil Burt, who has worked with Britain’s elite cycling teams at three Olympic games and seven Tour de France.

Improves cardiovascular health

Cardiorespiratory fitness improves with endurance exercises like cycling, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a study from Purdue University in the US. The study suggests that if you cycle for 3.5 hours or more every week, you can cut your CVD risk by 20%.

It’s also a great way to boost your body’s metabolic rate – the efficiency of burning calories and fat. Sports physiologists have found that cyclists who incorporate short bursts of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into their workouts can raise their metabolism even after stopping pedaling.

Increases bone density

It would help to incorporate weight-bearing exercises into your routine to build strong bones. Running, jumping, and weight lifting are all excellent options.

However, cycling isn’t weight-bearing and doesn’t stress the skeleton enough to stimulate bone growth. This is why elite cyclists often have lower bone density than non-elite athletes.

The effects of cycling on bone density are difficult to measure and depend on the age, gender, competitive levels, and years of practice involved. A review of 31 studies was published in 2012, examining how cycling affects bone density.

Nevertheless, some evidence suggests that cycling may reduce bone mass over time in competitive cyclists. A study at the University of Colorado examined 14 male cyclists to see how their bone mass changed over a year of competing.

Improves mental health

When you walk or cycle in nature, getting some fresh air makes you feel energized, cheerful and ready to take on whatever life throws at you. It also helps calm you if you’re feeling tense or angry.

Studies have shown that 30 minutes of cycling can improve mental health. These benefits include a boost in memory, reasoning, and planning.

In a study published in PLoS One, cyclists were found to have higher levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin – the chemicals associated with focus, attention, and memory. Researchers say this can be due to how exercise boosts the brain’s natural feel-good hormones.