Get Started
Get Started

Health & Exercise Forum

Top 10 Benefits of Cycling

Apr 13, 2015

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumSpring has sprung and so too has Tour de Scranton, considered the “kick off” to biking season in NEPA as it springs into action in preparation for this Aprils big event. Dust off your bikes and warm up for the event by riding the many beautiful and well-maintained trails are available at the Countryside Conservancy at Lackawanna State Park, other locations in the Abingtons or the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority.

Tour de Scranton is the official “kick off” to biking season in NEPA. This year, on Sunday, April 26th, the 12th annual Tour de Scranton will offer a selection of several routes and distances for the novice and experienced rider at its non-competitive bike ride for riders of every age and skill level. This event supports “The Erin Jessica Moreken Drug & Alcohol Treatment Fund” which provides charitable gifts to qualified local organizations or individuals struggling with the disease of addiction. For more information visit:


There are many obvious reasons to bike…cardiovascular fitness, burn calories, improve leg strength and others. But, the real question is, “what are the advantages of biking over other forms of exercise?” Glad you asked…


  1. INEXPENSIVE – while not as cheap as running, biking can be much cheaper than other sports. Starter bikes can be less expensive than high end running shoes.
  2. EASY – most people can learn to ride a bike. Kids begin with training wheels and adult tricycles are available.
  3. FAMILY FUN – something the whole family can enjoy in your neighborhood, at the beach or on one of the trails.
  4. PRACTICAL EXERCISE – it is an opportunity to exercise while traveling to work, store, lunch etc…bike it!
  5. CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS – good for the heart and all that goes with it: burns calories, lowers blood pressure, lowers LDL, and elevates HDL and boosts the immune system.
  6. LEG STRENGTH – pedaling a bike is a great way to improve leg strength.
  7. CORE STRENGTH – core muscles of the neck, middle and lower back and the associated arm strength will improve while biking in order to maintain your torso on a bike on hills and turns.
  8. IMPROVES BALANCE/COORDINATION/FALLS PREVENTION – riding a bike requires some balance and coordination and therefore will improve balance as a form of falls prevention.
  9. GOOD FOR YOUR JOINTS – bike riding only requires partial weight bearing to the spine and lower body joints so it is more comfortable and gentle to your joints than walking or running. For this reason, it is often recommended to pregnant women suffering from leg or lower back pain as a safe alternative to running.
  10. MENTAL WELLNESS – biking, like all aerobic exercise, is a great source of stress management as it releases endorphins and serotonin which improves mental health. With the added feature of being outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air, biking keeps you smiling!


Prevention is the best management of musculoskeletal problems associated with biking. First, many of the problems associated with biking such as knee pain, buttock soreness, and tendonitis can be prevented through proper fitting. Furthermore, it is important that your equipment be in good working order such as tires, chain, brakes and pedals. Next, be sure to maintain a fairly good fitness level in order to bike safely. If you are a beginner, start slowly. Warm up and slowly bike for 10 to 15 minutes and build up over time. Practice the coordination of stopping, starting, shifting and braking. Work on good strength and flexibility of the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and gluteal muscles. All of these muscles are necessary to generate pedal force. Balance is also important to safety and can be practiced on and off the bike. Be aware that adaptive equipment can modify your bike for added comfort and safety such as soft handlebar tape, seat post and front fork shock absorbers, padded biking shorts, c-out and gel pad saddle seats, and wider tires.

Be careful not to progress too quickly because inactivity to over activity in a short period of time can create problems. Overuse injuries such as tendonitis, can be avoided by cross training. Bike every other day and walk, run or swim on off days. Make sure to take time off to recover after a long ride. Use ice and massage to sore muscles and joints after riding.

Remember, cycling should be fun! Pain from improperly fitted and poorly maintained equipment is preventable. Excessive workouts and training rides should be kept to a minimum and consider cross-training in between.


EQUIPMENT: Helmets are a must! Also, keep your bike in good condition. Road bikes should have mirrors and reflectors. Use hand signals and obey traffic rules. Dress for weather and visibility. Have a first aid and tire patch kit, tire pump and tools. Seat comfort can be improved with gel cushion or split seat.

BE ALERT: for traffic, parked cars, pedestrians loose gravel and cracks in the road.

SOURCES: American Physical Therapy Association

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body. Keep moving, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum” in the Scranton Times-Tribune. 

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email:

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice in downtown Scranton and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.