Which Muscle Groups Do I Work By Riding A Bike?

LiveStrong Foundation: Jun 10, 2011 | By Chris Blank

Between 2005 and 2009, the percentage of people who rode their bicycles to work increased by 35 percent in the 70 largest urban areas of the United States, “Wired” magazine reports, citing figures collected by the League of American Bicyclists. Bicycling is an excellent means of reducing both your waistline and your carbon footprint. Riding a bicycle is good for your overall health, although certain muscle groups are more involved than others.

Legs, Thighs and Glutes

The act of pushing the pedals on a bicycle exercises the feet, the lower legs, thighs and gluteus maximus. Bicycling provides similar benefits to the lower body as walking or running, without the stress of impact or weight-bearing that those exercises require, explains Lisa Callahan, M.D., of the Women’s Sports Medical Center in New York City, quoted by Healthy Women. The act of pedaling also helps preserve cartilage and is gentle on joints, according to Callahan. This is especially important for overweight people; bicycling is an enjoyable way to introduce exercise into their daily routine. Riding a bicycle can also help relieve back pain, foot and muscle strain, and knee problems, all common complaints associated with running and other high-impact exercises, Callahan claims.

Heart and Cardiovascular System

The heart, besides essential to cardiovascular functioning, is also a major muscle. As an aerobic exercise, bicycling strengthens your cardiovascular system and also improves endurance, according to Sarah Kovatch M.F.A. and Melinda Smith, M.A., writing for Helpguide.org. The AHA recommends 30 minutes of moderate-to-strenuous exercise nearly every day for most healthy adults. Recreational bicycling is a low-stress, no-impact means of reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease, while also providing weight-loss benefits and increasing endurance, according to the American Heart Association. Riding on a stationary bicycle provides a less strenuous workout than riding outdoors because of the lack of wind resistance and varied terrain, Callahan explains. Step up your workout on a stationary bike to compensate.

Arms and Shoulders

Riding a bicycle works the muscles in your shoulders and arms. This is especially true if your route includes hills and other varied terrain and you stand up to pedal, Callahan claims. If you ride on a racing bicycle with “drop” handlebars, sit up straight periodically to prevent cramping and possible injury to your upper body, the University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter recommends.

Comments are closed.