Aside from being a fun activity that can be done indoors or outdoors, cycling is a great aerobic workout. The benefits of cycling can be felt in the muscles, heart, and lungs. As an alternative to running, the benefits of cycling include a cardiovascular workout that is not high impact on the joints of the legs and the lower back. It is also a fast and convenient way to burn fat, as cycling can be done daily as an alternative to driving to work or school, or in the gym on the exercise bike.
Indoor cycling has its own set of benefits as well. During the winter months, one might consider setting up an exercise bike or cycling trainer in the living room to reap the benefits of cycling without ever leaving home. Instead of sitting on the couch during one's favorite television show, he or she can sit on the exercise bike and ride while watching. Spinning the pedals even at a low to moderate pace will burn calories and build muscle, which helps one lose weight quickly when combined with a healthy diet.
One of the greatest benefits of cycling is the fact that cycling is low impact on the body. All the motions involved in cycling are circular motions in which the joints and muscles do not take a direct impact. A high impact sport, such as running, relies on the ankles, knees, and hips to absorb shock from the running motion. Cycling has no such motions that require shock absorption by the body, except for the occasional bump in the road that the arms and shoulders must absorb. Mountain bikes account for these shocks by adding a shock absorbing fork to the front of the bike; road bikes often feature carbon forks which absorb a significant amount of vibration from the road.
Other benefits of cycling include enhanced VO2 Max performance, which is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during strenuous exercise. Regular cycling can help the body use more oxygen during exercise, depending on the exercise routine the rider designs for himself. Cycling is also a great way to build muscles in the legs, which can improve balance, agility, and speed. Combining cycling with a good core workout can help alleviate back pain by strengthening supporting muscles. The motions associated with cycling also tone the leg muscles, giving the rider a leaner, stronger appearance.