- ICI staff
Cycling (and indoor cycling) is a popular form of exercise that offers numerous health benefits. It is a low-impact exercise that is easy on the joints and can be done at any age. Cycling is a great way to improve cardiovascular health by reducing cholesterol, blood pressure and improving circulation, reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes by reducing insulin resistance and burning fat, and improve mental health with a great release of endorphins. But as with anything, too much can reduce the benefits you gain.
The amount of cycling that is appropriate for each person varies and depends on various factors such as age, fitness level, fitness goals, lifestyle and time management, and overall health. For example, a person who is new to cycling will need to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of cycling they do each week - either number of sessions or duration or rides or both. Someone who’s used to riding, but is now training for an event also may need to ramp up the activity.
The World Health Organisation recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week or 70 mins of vigorous intensity exercise. Cycling is considered a moderate-intensity exercise and can help individuals meet this recommendation. The intensity of an indoor cycling session can be adjusted, and therefore with a reputable instructor it’s possible to work at a more vigorou intensity. The amount of cycling needed to meet this recommendation may vary depending on factors such as fitness level and body weight. Using a heartrate monitor such as MyZone is a great way to monitor your activity and see how you’re doing in comparison to the recommended activity levels.
For those who are more experienced cyclists or who are training for an event, it is possible to cycle more frequently without adverse effects on health. However, it is important to take rest days to allow the body to recover and to avoid overtraining. Overtraining leads to fatigue, injury, and decreased performance.
Another factor to consider is the intensity of the cycling. High-intensity cycling, such as sprinting or hill repeats, can be more stressful on the body and may require more rest and recovery time. Individuals who engage in high-intensity cycling may need to cycle less frequently than those who engage in moderate-intensity cycling. Likewise, if you’re riding in the studio, you’ll need to mix the intensities of your classes and ensure that for any high intensity anaerobic sessions you’ve got a good balance of lower intensity aerobic ones to maximise the gains. For someone who’s starting out, 1–2 sessions a week is a good place to begin. For those who’re looking to improve fitness and burn fat, 3–4 sessions per week, and for those with more athletic goals, 5–6 sessions per week with at least one rest day is a good target.
In conclusion, there is no set limit to how often one can cycle per week without adverse effects on health - it really depends on personal factors including fitness level and fitness goals. If you’re getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, then this is a good place to start (it’s quite a low bar!) and cycling and especially indoor cycling can be a great way to meet this recommendation. However, it is important to listen to your body, take rest days, and gradually increase the amount of cycling you do to avoid overtraining and injury.