How does cycling affect your bones?

Exercise, Self Care, Injury Prevention, Bone Health

 

Family of five riding bicycles

No matter how old you are, summertime in Wisconsin is a beautiful time to ride your bicycle.

You can ride in your neighborhood or choose to use the miles and miles of trails winding through Wisconsin’s natural areas. These gravel or asphalt paths keep you off the main roads as you enjoy the surroundings.

If you’d rather bike to work, many cities and towns in our state have added dedicated lanes for safer travel from place to place.

But is cycling the best exercise for your bones? 

Cycling offers some excellent cardiovascular health benefits.

A strong cardiovascular system improves blood flow throughout the body, carrying oxygen, minerals, and other nutrients essential for bone health.

Whether you’re a weekend rider or training for a 100-mile ride, biking is an enjoyable way to add physical activity to your life. Cycling outside:

• Stimulates vitamin D production, which is needed for calcium absorption.
• Gives the entire body a cardiovascular workout.
• Supplies a low-impact activity that increases lung capacity.
• Burns calories and promotes weight loss and maintenance, which improve joint health.

These benefits improve overall health and wellness.

But if you’re counting on cycling to build strong bones, there’s something you need to know.

Cycling, especially road cycling, is not considered a weight-bearing exercise. And bones need the pressure and stress of weight to stimulate the bone-building process.

A 2012 review of 31 studies
showing the relationship between cycling and bone health revealed that cyclists have a higher risk of osteoporosis and lower bone mineral density in critical areas of the body.

Low-bone-mineral density is of particular concern as people age.

Walking, running, or similar weight-bearing exercises stress the bones and cause tiny fissures or cracks to occur. These cracks cause the bone’s osteocytes to swing into action. These bone-manager cells call in the bone-building osteoblasts to repair the damage. This natural restoration process makes the bone stronger.

The rise in popularity of mountain biking, which requires bikers to stand or adjust their weight on the pedals as they navigate obstacles, may increase the sport’s weight-bearing and bone-building potential. But more study is needed to determine mountain biking’s impact on bone density.

Cycling can be a part of a well-rounded fitness program.

It’s a fun activity.

But before you go:

• Make sure you know the rules of the road.
• Wear a helmet that fits properly.
• Check your tire pressure, brakes, handlebars, and other mechanical parts to make sure they are in good working order.

Taking these simple steps can help prevent severe injury.

Cycling is a fantastic way for families and friends to exercise together and enjoy warm summer days. For more information on gear, safety, trails, or competitive riding in Wisconsin, visit Wisconsin Bike Fed.

https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1741-7015-10-168

 

Check out other June articles:

Help! My foot won't heal
Can I hike after knee replacement surgery?
Learn more about Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Joint Replacement Surgery
Bone & Joint's Walk-In Care can keep you moving


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