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The Overlooked Limitation of Cycling

Cycling, whether it’s on a road bike, mountain bike, or any variety of stationary bikes, is great cardio-respiratory exercise. Because of its low impact, cycling lends itself to interval style training: pushing the intensity for twenty seconds to a few minutes, recovering, and then repeating.  Interval training is a great way to improve our aerobic fitness (also known as our VO2 Max) and improved aerobic fitness is strongly correlated with a reduction in a myriad of chronic diseases. 
But cycling has one major drawback. Cyclists are seven times more likely to develop osteoporosis compared with runners (this applies to recreational and professional cyclists alike). Because cycling is not weight bearing, a cyclist’s bone mineral density declines at the same rate as their sedentary counterparts. Running, on the other hand, is load-bearing and jarring in nature. Yes, this jarring has drawbacks (like a host of musculoskeletal injuries), but it does contribute to improved bone mineral density.

If you enjoy cycling as exercise or as a sport, by all means, continue to cycle as it represents very effective cardio-respiratory exercise. Just be sure to supplement your cycling with strength training with relatively heavy weights as load on the bone is the key to maintaining and improving our bone mineral density. 


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