For most, kitting up for hours-long rides every day might seem like an unattainable dream. Clocking serious mileage on a daily basis does require more work than your average amateur cyclist can manage, but daily riding itself is not only very feasible, but also encouraged. Here are five reasons to bike every day, no matter how much time or energy you have for it.
Note: If you're not ready to commit to riding every day for forever, try completing a short-term ride streak first—it's easier to start a habit by chipping away at smaller goals.
Enjoy Your Commute
If you want to ride every day but are strapped for time, one of the most logical ways to fit it into your schedule is making it part of your commute. “Cycling can be easily integrated into daily life, unlike gym workouts,” says Nick Cavill, a public health consultant and director of Cycling England, a project promoting cycling’s benefits in the UK.
Those minutes spent biking to and from the office quickly add up: Sixty percent of Portland cyclists ride at least two and a half hours every week, with the majority of that time made up by short rides for transportation. And bike commuting offers very real health benefits, without requiring you to go out of your way to work out.
But the perks of getting around on two wheels go beyond avoiding traffic and living more healthfully. Commuting by car has been linked to weight gain and obesity, even in drivers who make time for exercise. Women who commute by walking or biking at least 30 minutes each day also were found to have a decreased risk of breast cancer.
Be Mentally Sharper
Once you’re in the habit of getting to work by bike, you’ll be better prepared for what comes next. Daily exercise has been found to increase energy and reduce fatigue. Even a single 30-minute bout of exercise can improve reaction time, memory, and creative thinking.
“Cycling is one of the best exercises I’d recommend," says Corey Kunzer, a physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic’s sports medicine department. “It helps relieve stress.” Cycling has also been found to reduce anxiety and depression. When given a questionnaire, men who increased their daily bike commuting saw improvements in their overall mental health.
Have Better Sex—Or At Least Think You Do
All that newfound mental health could result in newfound confidence—which may or may not be a good thing. Men who exercise six or seven days per week have been found to self-report their sexual desirability as above average, or much above average. (Women also reported increases, but not as drastic.)
There’s at least some reason, however, for them to think so highly of themselves. Exercise has been shown to lead to increased sexual drive and decreases in sexual dysfunction, to a point. Too much of a good thing can drive down testosterone levels in men, but just 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can make women more sexually responsive.
Plus, you can eat whatever you want and maintain your weight—sort of. The old trope about hard workouts making it okay to grab an extra donut is viable, though you probably shouldn't nosh on junk food constantly. In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Bath, two groups of men massively overate—but only one group exercised daily. Despite consuming the same surplus amount of calories, after taking into account what was burned off with exercise, the group that worked out daily managed to offset the ill effects of overeating, like blood sugar spikes and unhealthy metabolic changes.
“One of the reasons that daily exercise could be so useful is because it allows your muscles to act as a 'buffer' to the food that we eat,” says Dylan Thomas, a professor of health sciences at the University of Bath and author of the study. “When you use your muscles, they break down carbohydrate and fat stores.”
But your daily rides do more than make you healthier and happier: They also extend the amount of time you have to feel that way, even if you’re already creeping up in years. A large study in Norway that followed a group of elderly men in their 70s and 80s found that just 30 minutes of exercise per day resulted in those men living up to five years longer, compared to men who didn’t do any physical activity.
Another study in Taiwan, which asked over 400,000 adults how much they exercised and tracked those answers over eight years, found that just 15 minutes of exercise each day correlated with a three-year increase in life expectancy. None of these people were young and most weren’t incredibly athletic when they started the study. It’s never too late!