Can Cycling Prevent Heart Disease?

Medically Reviewed

Cycling is fun, as well as an environmentally friendly way to get around. Even better, it may keep your heart healthy.

A Danish study published in 2016 in Circulation followed more than 45,000 recreational cyclists, ages 50 to 65, for 20 years. The participants, who cycled regularly for either pleasure or commuting, had 11 to 18 percent fewer heart attacks than noncyclists. Additionally, adults who took up cycling for the first time saw a 26 percent decrease in their cardiovascular risk within five years when compared with noncyclists.

It’s already known that incorporating bicycling into a workout routine is good for your heart. But this study looked at people who enjoyed outdoor bicycling as a recreational hobby or as a way to commute instead of a conscious means of exercise. What’s more, even once-a-week rides of only half an hour were associated with a reduced heart attack risk.

Because the study is observational, it can’t prove that bicycling prevents heart attacks, but it does suggest a beneficial relationship between bicycling and heart health.

The findings are supported by another study published in 2016 in the Journal of the American Heart Association in which middle-aged and older adults in Sweden who commuted to work via bicycle were less likely to have a high body mass index, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or prediabetes than those who commuted “passively,” such as by car or public transportation.

The researchers also found that the cyclists’ risks of these conditions decreased as the frequency and duration of their rides increased.

Learn more about how to cycle safely.