15 Positive Effects That Cycling Has On The Body

Cycling is something that many people do in their everyday life, perhaps to commute to work, or go from one place to the other, or simply exercise for a bit.

However, people that cycle as a sport and that are dedicated to it, will be able to vouch for how intense this activity actually is. It is, after all, a full-on exercise!

Everybody’s heard the jokes about how cyclists have huge legs. And it makes sense since leg muscles are powering the whole thing. But in reality, cycling does a lot more than work out your legs, and has effects throughout your entire body that you might not even be aware of!

And you don’t have to be a professional cyclist to reap the benefits of this sport either, casual cycling is a great low-impact way of getting some pretty positive effects on your whole body. 

From improved endurance and stronger muscles to better cardiovascular overall health, and even some mental health benefits! Cycling does much more than keep your legs moving, it exercises your full body. 

Of course, the exact effects and benefits will vary from person to person, depending on how they cycle, as well as their physical conditions and capabilities. But if you want to have a general overview of what cycling does to your body…then you’ve come to the right place. 

We’re going to tell you exactly how cycling affects the body, and how it can change your body shape. As well as giving you the 15 main positive effects that it has on your body as a whole. 

Does that sound good? Then let’s get right into it! 

Cycling and How it Affects Your Body Shape

Most exercises will work out the entire body, in one way or another. Although it is true that different exercises will target different parts of your body specifically, focusing on certain muscle groups, due to the nature of how said exercise is performed.

For example, cycling is done primarily through the use of your legs, powering the bike as you advance. This means that cycling does indeed primarily target your leg muscles and your lower body, with this being the part of your body that is affected the most by the activity.

However, the rest of the body is also in use and is involved in the process, and therefore, cycling can change the shape of your whole body, and not just your lower half. 

Other than your lower body, and especially your legs, a very obvious effect that cycling has on your body shape is your core. Cycling can strengthen your core a lot, and can also tone up your arms and your upper body muscles in general! Of course, it will depend on how you cycle, and what techniques you use. But the possibilities are there! 

Also, it is worth noting that although your leg muscles are the most obvious effect of cycling, there are many more subtle changes to your body that you might not even be aware of.

Plus, there are also mental effects, as all forms of exercise provide certain mental wellbeing benefits, that are so subtle that you usually struggle to acknowledge them. But we will talk about some positive effects of cycling in the following section. 

15 Positive Effects of Cycling 

As we have mentioned, cycling works out your whole body, even if some parts of your body aren’t as obviously affected by cycling as others. 

But just to make you more aware of some of the things that cycling can do for you, and specifically your body, here are 15 of our favorite positive effects of cycling: 

Muscle Development in Your Lower Body

Your lower body is the part most targeted by the activity of cycling, for obvious reasons. It’s your legs doing most of the work, and if you’re pushing yourself, you should feel a burning sensation all over the muscles of your lower body. Specifically, you will gain muscle development in your glutes, hamstrings, and hips. 

Leg Strength

Most cyclists will end up with developed leg muscles, strengthened and tested through the repetitive process of performing the activity. However, not all cyclists will get a super-defined leg muscle, as it can depend on each cyclist, their cycling techniques, their physical conditions and capabilities, and more. 

When we say it can depend on the cycling techniques, we refer to the different types of cycling, and what kind of leg power they require. For example, a professional cyclist will likely have lean and slim legs, as they cycle really fast, due to the competitive nature of their cycling. 

A track cyclist, on the other hand, focuses less on speed, and more on endurance and effort through hard terrain, so they will have more prominent leg muscles that are stacked. 

At the end of the day, your leg muscles will develop according to how you use them, and they can be used in different ways while cycling, so it’s up to you!

What we will say is that cycling overall promotes a good amount of stamina within your leg muscles, so regardless of the type of cycling you perform, your legs will gain in power. 

Muscle Through Resistance

When cycling, you aren’t just putting effort into the movement of your muscles, you are also being faced with resistance. And this element of resistance is what actually allows you to build muscle, instead of simply burning some fat.

The more resistance that you face when cycling, the more toned and strong your muscles will be. Especially your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Although you will also be subtly working out your upper body, such as your arms and core. 

Enhanced Brainpower

Yup, you read this right: enhanced brainpower. And that is because exercising, as a whole, provides you with many brain health benefits, and cycling is one of these exercises that is particularly good. 

Cycling essentially triggers the brain into improving the blood flow, so that your body can perform and keep up with the demands you are making of it, and this then links back to mental wellbeing. 

Cycling just an hour a day, at your own pace, can increase blood flow by around 40 percent. So there you have it! 

Toned Arms

It might not seem like your arms are doing much, as it is mostly your legs moving while you cycle. However, your arms are applying force to pull on the bars of the bike, and this helps tone up your biceps, triceps, and deltoids. Even if it is in a more subtle way. This is especially true in hilly areas, as you use a lot more force to keep the handles steady. 

You might even notice that, when cycling for long periods of time, your arms begin to ache from the effort. If you think about it, you are retaining a specific position with your arms, which slowly builds up the muscle and enhances stamina and endurance. 

Working Your Core

Cycling is an excellent activity for working your core and getting your cardio fitness in. In fact, you burn around 400 calories per hour when cycling! It’s also why it is such a good option for weight loss, as it burns fat in a safe and low-impact way. 

Cycling works your core muscles through your abdominals and back. It requires you to maintain your body upright, in the right position, and this works your muscles, strengthening them, even if you don’t notice.

As the effort of your core is vital for keeping your spine supported while you cycle, the result is an increase in your stability, as well as getting more and more comfortable as you cycle, over time. 

It is Low-Impact

Do you know how we mentioned that cycling is good for losing weight in a safe way because it burns fat at low impact? Well what we mean by low-impact, is that cycling doesn’t put too much stress on your joints, and there isn’t much risk of injury, as even inexperienced people can take up cycling safely. 

If we compare it to running, for example, cycling is a lot safer. Runners are 140% more likely to suffer from muscle damage than cyclists are!

This also means that cycling is a great sport for those that have weaker joints or that are prone to get injured, as it allows you to exercise and workout your entire body with a way lower risk. 

Body Shape Transformations

In other sports, such as running, it is a lot easier to see your body shape transform and improve over time, as you perform the exercise regularly. However, with cycling, the differences to your body are far more subtle, and harder to notice. 

You will likely notice the legs getting stronger, but most other changes are less obvious. However, your body shape does indeed change, as it is affected by the regular exercise that cycling requires. We’ll tell you a little more about it. 

In men, a cycling body transformation will usually take between 12 to 16 weeks to become noticeable. (That is, in terms of fat loss, toning, definition, or similar). 

During the first 12 weeks or so, the muscles begin to gain definition, most noticeably in the legs, and in the triceps. And after this, you will begin to notice definition and muscle development in other parts of the body.

In women, the cycling body transformation is a lot slower, due to hormonal limitations that play a huge role in how your body develops and is shaped. However, over time, cycling does have an effect.  

Women have to work a lot harder in order to build muscle mass and gain muscle definition, but if done regularly, with longer and more intense sessions, you can expect to see weight loss, muscle development, and toning. 

That being said, it is important to remember that each individual is different, and the way that cycling affects and changes your body will depend on your unique body type. Also, although it does take a lot longer to see a difference in your body with cycling, it will also be a lot longer-lasting, which is always a good thing! 

A Flat Stomach

A lot of people that exercise in order to lose weight want to get a flat stomach, sooner rather than later. And although you’re not really using your stomach muscles that much while cycling, you are burning fat, due to the aerobic nature of cycling as a workout. So that’s the good news! 

The bad news is that cycling will usually burn fat at a slower rate than other sports, such as running. That being said, the good thing about cycling is that you can burn fat while performing at a very low intensity that is suited to your physical capabilities, making it far more accessible. 

If you want to speed up the flat stomach process, we recommend that you combine climbing and descending, rather than cycling on a smooth even surface, as this will engage your abdominal muscles a lot more in order to keep your body well-balanced and positioned. 

Recumbent Bikes and Convenience

Recumbent biking is, by far, one of the most comfortable types of cycling that you can perform. Especially because it can be done indoors, and it is super efficient at toning up your body and providing your muscles with better definition, in a shorter amount of time.

This type of cycling is also considered to be a very good core workout, that is pretty intense but worth it. 

Amongst other things, recumbent bike workouts will target your quadriceps, your shins, your calf muscles, your hamstrings, your glutes, and of course, your core. If done regularly, you will likely end up with an athletic body that is strong, firm, and healthy.

Basically, all of the benefits of cycling outdoors, but in a more convenient way that allows you to stay indoors, and in a more compact manner so that you get more done in less time.

Recumbent bikes are also actually quite popular in gyms, not only for workouts but for fitness maintenance, including in older people! 

Indoor Cycling

Indoor cycling is, arguably, one of the most popular forms of cycling nowadays. This is for many different reasons, the main ones being that indoor cycling is available at gyms and at home, therefore making it convenient, easy, and practical.

Plus, it is often a lot more accessible to people, as outdoor cycling requires a lot more time, equipment, and the right space and location for it. 

But…can indoor cycling affect your body in the same ways as regular cycling? The answer is yes. It shapes your body and defines your muscles in the same way, encouraging weight loss through the burning of fat and calories, and enhancing your physical capabilities over time. 

But we’re going to go a step further and say that with indoor cycling, you also have way more benefits in regards to your personal fitness and physique, and that is because there are many different types of indoor cycling, which can help target different goals.

Plus, you can focus a lot more on the technique and exercise, because you’re not having to stay alert to your surroundings in any way! 

Basically, indoor cycling is a lot more convenient and practical, and far more accessible to people. It is also often cheaper, and it allows you to focus a lot more on the actual exercise and workout, as you don’t have to keep an eye on where you are going, since you’re not actually moving. 


Another positive aspect of cycling is that you now have access to electric bikes, to perform what is popularly referred to as e-biking. Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are battery-powered and designed to assist you when pedaling, especially when you are going uphill or over rough terrain, and need that extra amount of force to keep moving.

They work in quite a fascinating way: you pedal, and as you do so, you engage in a small motor that gives your pedalling a boost so that you advance a lot faster than you would by your strength and effort alone. 

And you might be wondering, why is this on the list of positive effects of cycling? Don’t e-bikes lower your effort, and therefore your workout? Well, kinda, but not quite. 

E-bikes essentially provide you with a lower-body workout and can help you add definition to your muscles, lose weight, and become leaner. Because while they are boosting your effort, you are still putting effort in. And because they make the whole process a lot easier, they can be quite encouraging, and help people stay consistent in their exercise! 

Saving Time

There are many other sports that are far more effective at helping you lose weight or gain muscle definition, at a faster rate than cycling does. But here’s one benefit that cycling provides, that almost no other sport does: it saves you time. 

Mainly, because cycling can be a means of transport, so you could be getting your daily dose of exercise while you’re making your way to work or others. Instead of taking the car, or a bus, just cycle.

It’s a workout that also gets you to where you need, kind of like multitasking. And if that isn’t a positive side-effect of cycling, then we don’t know what is!

Not to mention that bikes don’t require fuel, and have no problem with parking…so it’s a win-win sort of situation. 

Lowered Health Risks

We’ve already mentioned that cycling, as an exercise, increases your health. But let’s get a little more official. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), regular cycling leads to a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, dementia, type 2 diabetes, and even several different types of cancer! 

Regular cycling will also improve the quality of your sleep, and enhance cognition. It will also help lower symptoms of depression or anxiety, and overall, it just makes you healthier and happier. 

In order to reap these benefits, you don’t need to cycle like a professional. Some casual cycling, even at a lower intensity, will already be super helpful. The trick, however, is to stay consistent and cycle regularly. 

It’s Easy and Accessible 

Finally, we’d like to talk about one of the major positive effects and benefits of cycling as an exercise: it’s easy and accessible. People of all ages can cycle, and you don’t need to be highly experienced in any way to do so. You also don’t require much, just a bike, and some protective gear if you are cycling outdoors. 

The thing is, when you cycle and sit on a bike, you are shifting your entire weight so that it is supported by bones in your pelvis, relieving any impact that might affect your legs and feet. This allows people with joint pain, stiffness, or old age, to also enjoy cycling, without any risk of damage. 

It is, of course, important to use the right bike, or else you might get injured. But that’s common sense, you need to use gear that’s right for you. The main point is that cycling is super easy, and bikes are available for very little if you know where to look.

Plus, bikes are pretty much a useful tool for everyday life, so it’s a way of incorporating exercise into your daily routine, without having to force yourself to directly exercise, you know? 

Final Thoughts

The main takeaway of this article should be that cycling has many different effects on your body as a whole, and if done regularly, you can reap many benefits that make you overall healthier and happier, as well as transforming your body to a healthier shape that is stronger and more resistant. 

Andrew Daniels