What’s Your Biggest Health Improvement From Biking?

I picked up my mountain bike from my neighborhood bike mechanic this evening.  It had been shifting poorly, and he took care of it.  Getting the bike was important to me, because I’m still not riding my road bike.

In case you missed it, the front derailleur on my road bike broke over a week ago.  I haven’t received the replacement yet.  Maybe it’ll be all set in time for the weekend.

But as long as I have one bike in operating condition, that’s a good thing.  Because biking is good for me.

How do I know?  I look at the numbers.

I recently had my annual physical exam.  I have some health issues that I pay close attention to.  My cholesterol has been high as long as I can remember.  So has my blood pressure.

I could count on a typical blood pressure reading of around 151/90.  My cholesterol used to be as high as 250.

Just 36 hours after I rode in the Outlaw Trail 100 last month, my BP was 113/69.  A year or so ago, my doctor would have been happy to get it to around 135/85.  In fact, for awhile, that was our target.  Now, we’re shooting for much lower readings.  I’m normally in the 120/80 vicinity these days.

Is it all because of biking?

Not completely.  I’m on blood pressure medication, but at my last physical, the doc told me to stop taking one of the two types of pills I was on.  He says that while the meds brought the BP down, it’s the biking that is keeping it in the target zone.

He was also pleasantly surprised to note that my resting heart rate is 56.  That’s all due to biking.

Ditto the cholesterol.  I take medicine for that, too, but it’s the smallest dose made — 5 milligrams.  The doc says it might as well be a placebo.  He credits biking and diet for my recent big drop.  Oh, I forgot to mention — it’s now 158.

(I’m still not super careful about diet, but I do eat smaller portions than before, and I don’t snack as much.)

How about weight?

I don’t have a super weight-loss story to tell, but I have lost about 12 pounds from what it was at the beginning of the year.  One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get below 200 pounds.  I’ve done that, but I didn’t stay there.  Right now, I flirt with it.  By year’s end, I should be there permanently.  More gratifying to me than the weight loss is the girth loss. I’ve gone from pants with a 40-inch waist to pants with a 38-inch waist.  And depending upon the brand of pants, some of those 38s are fitting too loosely.

So that’s why I was glad to get one of my bikes in operating condition this week.  I’ll be out on it soon.  While the main reason I bike is for the fun of it, the health benefits can’t be ignored — especially at my age.

How about you?  What kind of health benefits have you enjoyed as a result of your biking?



  1. Mel Hughes says

    Before starting back biking this summer, my blood pressure med kept me in the 125/85 range. On two separate occasions in the last two months, I had readings of 106/78 in my doctor’s office. The only difference is the riding.

    Like you, I have only seen about 10-12 pounds disappear. But there is a real difference in the way clothes fit. I had to drop down a size in jeans.

    I have my annual physical next month. It will be interesting to see what the other values are. I suspect they will be similar. Turning 60 next month seems much more palatable as long as biking remains central.

  2. johnt says

    My cardio has improved drastically this year since I have been riding but I get so much more out of it. The whole lifestyle has really helped keep me balanced and in the moment. Not to mention the social aspect. I am healthier all around.

  3. Robebert says

    I just got serious about biking this year. Since March I’ve ridden 3200 miles, largely commuting to and from work.

    Since March 15th my bp has dropped from a high of 162/102 to an average reading of 113/69 and, I’ve lost nearly 50 pounds. At 55 I feel better than I have in 20 years, quitting smoking 4 years ago help also.

    Sadly biking season on the arctic tundra of Iowa will be ending soon so it’s off to the gym for the winter…I can hardly wait for spring.


  4. says

    My belly is gone. I’m off cholesterol meds. Weight is still high. I’m 5’11’ and still over 200 lbs. On the low side of obese. I need to get in the 170 range.

  5. mildstallion says

    I dropped from wearing XL size to plain old Large. When that happened, I was ecstatic – I don’t ever want to go back.

    Secondly, and probably more importantly my quality of sleep has improved dramatically. I get much more from less. I fall asleep much easier and am better rested when I get up.

    (Full disclosure: no kids)

  6. JBM says

    As a male in his mid-30’s, I have several benefits to report. First, the type of distance riding I like to do demands quality fuels. This means beerfest and burger evenings have been replaced with a beer (or two), and meals of lean meats, complext carbs (if any), and vegetables. This makes a massive difference in terms of the quality of my ride. This diet change has also affected my blood readings — all the bad things (LDL, triglicerides) are down, along with the blood pressure. I am sure that my riding regimen has contributed to this as well. Further, I have dropped quite a few pounds since I’ve been putting in some big miles. I’, 6-1, and have dropped below 195. But for the psychological dicomfort of having suits that look too big on me, it’s all good.

  7. Andy says

    I am in my mid 30’s, actually just turned 35 last month. I have been a Type 1 diabetic for 17 years. Cycling has led me to some of he best A1C numbers ever. A1C is an average of a person’s Blood Sugar for 3 months. In my opinion it is a result of better conditioning coupled with that fact that I have no trouble getting motivated for 2-3 hours of exercise when it is on the bike. I would NEVER have the motivation to spend 2-3 hours in the gym. So the fact that I love cycling makes exercise easier.
    I have noticed some modest weight loss, but agree with many others in that my clothes fit much better.
    I actually have a pair of jeans that will have to go because they are too tight around my quads. How is that for an ego boost.

  8. says

    So far I would have to credit my lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and weight to both cycling and my diet. Although my doctor is not happy enough she is still keeping me off the drugs. This winter I think I will try riding the gravel and some strength training to try to bust the stale mate I am experiencing

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