- Biking is a fantastic way to lose weight and improve your overall health.
- How many miles you bike a day will depend on your goals, fitness, and terrain.
- Biking 7-10 miles a day is a great place to start.
- Mountain biking is more strenuous and slower, so you won’t ride as far as on roads.
Biking is a great way to stay healthy, but how far should you bike a day? In this article, we’ll dive into how to choose a cycling distance for your goals.
In general, biking 5-12 miles per day is enough to see great benefits. How many miles you should ride per day will depend on your personal goals, fitness, and type of riding. Riding a bike is more than just fun, it is also a great exercise that can improve your health and fitness.
I’ve been riding a bike every day for several years to commute to work, get exercise, and have fun. Riding my bike has helped me lose weight and improve my own health, and I’ve done a lot of research into the health impacts of biking.
Benefits of Riding a Bike
Getting outside on a bike is a fantastic way to improve your overall health and fitness. There are so many benefits to be had, it’s definitely worth trying to incorporate biking into your exercise routine. Here are a few of the benefits you can expect from cycling:
- Biking is a great aerobic exercise that can improve your cardiovascular health.
- In combination with a healthy diet, riding a bike can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight.
- Any aerobic exercise like biking can improve sleep quality.
- Exercise and outdoor activity are also great for your mental health, so bike riding can boost your mood throughout the day.
- Bike riding is low impact, so you can enjoy the benefits of cycling without as much risk of injury as running.
- Other benefits include building lean muscle, boosting your immune system, and improving your metabolism.
While there is no magic number for how far you should ride your bike to start seeing these benefits, health experts have said you should aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Riding a bike at a moderate pace on paved paths or roads, an average cyclist can bike 10-15 miles per hour. This means in 30 minutes you should be able to ride 5 miles or more.
Of course, exercising more than the minimum of 30 minutes will have even greater health benefits. Anywhere from 5 to 12 miles of biking per day is a good starting point to improve your health.
Factors in Choosing How Many Miles to Bike a Day
The answer to how many miles should you bike a day to stay healthy depends on many different factors. You need to take into account your own goals, fitness level, bike type, and terrain.
One of the biggest factors in choosing how many miles a day to ride your bike will be your personal goals.
Here are a few common goals people have when they start biking:
- Health improvements like weight loss and improved cardiovascular health
- Reaching a higher athletic fitness level
- Relaxation and better mental health
- Specific goals in long-distance cycling, like a century ride
- Getting into competitive cycling
- The pure fun and exhilaration of a good bike ride
If you’re just aiming to get some exercise, lose weight, and improve your overall health, about 5-12 miles a day is a good range to start at. This year used my bike to commute 8 miles every day, and I definitely saw improvements in my cardio and strength.
An amateur competitive cyclist will often ride 30 or more miles a day. The pros racing in world-class events will rack up far more distance than that.
While you may start biking just for the health and fitness aspect, it’s likely you will come to enjoy the freedom of getting out on your bike and want to ride even more.
Your Current Fitness Level
You will need to take your current fitness level into account when choosing how far to bike in a day.
If you are just starting out on your fitness journey, your average speed will be slower and you won’t yet have the endurance to bike for hours at a time. Don’t worry! Pick a distance that’s realistic for you and you’ll quickly see your fitness improve.
If you already have a good base level of fitness, you’ll be able to sustain more effort for longer time, so you’ll ride faster and farther.
Don’t forget that if you start going for a bike ride every day, your fitness will improve. You may find after several weeks that you can increase your daily mileage and that your cycling speed will be faster.
Your Biking Experience
It’s not just your overall fitness that will determine how fast and far you can ride. Biking uses a very specific set of muscle groups and also involves an amount of skill. Even if your overall fitness is high, your speed may be limited if you don’t have much experience riding a bike.
Don’t get frustrated if your riding ability doesn’t seem to measure up to your fitness level at first. As you get more experience your speed will improve quickly.
When you are riding, your bike type will have a big influence on the speed and difficulty of riding. Here are a few different kinds of bikes you can choose from, each of which has a very different riding style.
- Road bikes are sleek, fast, and put you in an aerodynamic position. You can ride significantly faster on a road bike than on other types.
- Mountain bikes have larger knobby tires and suspension for smoothing out rough trails. These bikes will take more effort to ride but can take you places no other bike could go.
- Cruisers are comfortable relaxed bikes that are easy to ride, but typically much slower than other bikes.
- A stationary bike is one that doesn’t go anywhere at all. Set up in a gym or in your home, this bike type lets you ride indoors and is great for putting in miles between other activities.
Terrain and Route
Your biking route and the terrain you ride on will make a big difference to how far you can ride. Biking on hilly terrain will take much more time and effort than the same distance on flat terrain.
It’s not just hills that can slow you down. Riding on rocky trails or dirt or gravel roads will be slower than road biking on smooth asphalt.
Make sure you take hills and riding surface into account when choosing how far to bike in a day. Riding just a few miles on very hilly, rough trails can give you as good a workout as riding farther on smoother flat terrain.
Can Cycling Help You Lose Weight?
Riding a bike is very effective at calorie burn. If you’re trying to lose a few pounds, cycling can be great for losing weight.
When factoring biking into your weight loss program, a good rule of thumb is that biking at a moderate, steady pace will burn roughly 500 calories per hour. The farther and more intense your riding, the more calories you’ll burn.
Here is a great online calculator that can give you a more accurate estimate of how many calories you’ll burn biking.
It’s important to remember that aerobic exercise alone isn’t the most effective way to lose weight. You should also make sure you are eating healthy and incorporating strength training.
Here is a great guide for how to use cycling to help lose weight.
Road vs Mountain Biking for Fitness
Road biking and mountain biking have very different requirements in terms of your body’s ability. Which biking style you pick will impact how many miles you should ride.
Riding a road bike is great aerobic training. It’s easy to settle into a rhythm for longer distances or even work in interval training. Road cycling works very specific muscle groups, so it’s not the best full-body workout.
Getting on a mountain bike trail is an entirely different experience. Mountain biking typically involves intense bursts of effort over short distances and requires more core and arm strength.
Mountain biking also involves more hilly terrain, so the difficulty will be variable throughout the ride. Riding long distances on a mountain bike can be incredibly taxing, but also great fun.
Riding the same number of miles on a road bike or a mountain bike will be a totally different experience. Whether you chose to cruise the roads or ride your local bike trail, be ready to get a good workout and have fun along the way.
About THE AUTHOR
I love mountain biking and live in Salt Lake City: a central hub for the MTB community. I started biking four years ago when a series of injuries put me out of commission for trail running. While biking started as cross-training, I fell in love with the sport. I mainly enjoy using my bike as a tool for exploration, I've done 50-mile all-day epic rides in the mountains and have been to some amazing places on my bike.Read More About Jakob Thygerson