Top 5 Benefits of Cycling to Work

25th July 2023

Cycle to work

It’s no secret that daily physical activity is the key to a healthy life. The NHS recommends that adults aged 19-64 undertake at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, and particularly activities that help to strengthen the major muscle groups, in order to improve our health.

But between work, family, household tasks, and leisure activities, it can feel like fitting in time to exercise is impossible. In fact, it’s estimated that just over a third of the UK population don’t exercise at all in the week, with 36% of the population feeling that there just isn’t enough time in their day to exercise.

So what’s the solution? For many of us, the answer is simple – combining our exercise time with our commuting time by cycling to work. Research has shown that cycling benefits not only our physical health, but also our mental, financial, and environmental wellbeing.

What’s stopping people from cycling to work?

Research by the cycling benefits provider Cyclescheme has shown that over half of the UK’s workforce would be interested in cycling to work as a way to boost their everyday physical activity. And no wonder – with a variety of health and environmental benefits, cycling is a great way to integrate physical activity into our daily routines without needing to worry about costly gym memberships or finding the time to go for a run!

With so many cycling benefits, what then seems to be the reason that Britain isn’t hopping on their bikes to work every day? It was estimated in 2021 that only 6.7% of us regularly cycled to work, with more recent suggestions that this number may have dipped post-pandemic. Reasons for not biking to work often include:

  • Living too far away to cycle all the way
  • Worrying about being involved in an accident
  • Not feeling confident in cycling ability
  • Poor weather
  • Too many items to carry

It can be helpful when facing the above worries to consider that cycling to work doesn’t need to involve your entire journey. Many people make part of their journey by bike and the remainder by bus or train – just make sure to pack your bike lock!

It’s also important to remember that while cycling in a busy traffic area can be intimidating, Britain’s roads are safer than many of us may think when taking a bike ride. In fact, data shows that cycling is getting safer, with fewer injuries reported every year since 2014.

Want to find out more about how you can integrate your cycling commute into your daily health routine? Head to our colleagues at Health@Work to view their course, Healthy Habits – A Step-by-Step Guide to Lasting Change, here.

Our top five cycling benefits for better health & wellbeing

So, we’ve busted some myths on why many of us don’t feel comfortable cycling to work, but what are the real benefits of cycling that can help achieve our workplace goals?

Like any form of exercise, cycling benefits our respiratory and cardiovascular health, helps to achieve any weight loss goals we may have or maintain a healthy weight, and is a great way to build stamina, strength, and focus. There are certain benefits however that are unique to cycling – so here are our top 5 benefits of cycling to work!

1. Improved cardiovascular health

As a form of aerobic exercise – meaning an exercise where our heart rate and breathing increases across a sustained period of time – cycling is one the best activities you can do to improve your heart health. As your heart rate increases, pumping more blood around the body during physical activity, the muscles of the heart itself strengthen. This cardiac workout reduces resting heart rate, encourages the development of HDL (good) cholesterol, and helps to dissolve blood lipids faster – reducing the overall risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

This is particularly so in the case of cycling for travel, where, unlike indoor cycling on an exercise bike, both road and weather conditions as well as individual routes provide different experiences and challenges every time you ride. Who needs interval training?

2. Boosted immune system

Research has found that moderate, regular intensity exercise could have a positive impact on the immune system. As you head out on your bike ride, your heart rate increases, pushing more blood around your body. This in turn increases the circulation of immune cells around the body, helping it discover any potential infections earlier.

These findings show that regular cycling for periods of around 30–45 minutes increase the amount and circulation of our bodies’ defensive cells, helping us to build immunity and fight off infections faster. Be careful though – too much high intensity activity has been shown to negatively impact immunity and inflammation, so make sure to take regular breaks!

3. Enhanced concentration & focus

Doing physical activity in any capacity increases blood flow around the body, including to the brain. As this blood flow increases, the brain is exposed to additional oxygen and nutrients, as well as helping to release hormones that encourage brain cell growth. What’s more, research has even found that regular exercise speeds up neuronal connections between brain cells, meaning that your daily bike ride could even be making you more open to new information!

It’s also important to remember that commute cycling benefits us further by putting us in the fresh air. In contrast to using an exercise bike indoors, heading outdoors to exercise is a great way to take in more oxygen, reduce CO2 levels, and even get a brisk wake-up breeze.

4. Mental health benefits

The mental health benefits of exercise and cycling have been widely discussed. Regular exercise promotes healthier sleep patterns which impact our mental wellbeing, giving our brains chance to rest and reset. In addition, low-impact, moderate-intensity exercise such as cycling slows down production of the stress hormone cortisol and promotes the production of endorphins, the ‘happy hormones’ that many of us know as runner’s high.

Many people who engage in regular cycling also report higher levels of self-esteem and lower anxiety. In addition, getting out in natural surroundings and fresh air is often reported to be a great way to feel calmer after a stressful day – why not divert your bike ride home through a local park or reserve?

Don’t forget too that many of our health cash plans include access to the mProve YOURSELF app, your pocket wellbeing hub with meditations, mindfulness guides, and exercises. Download the app today and try out a new mindfulness exercise on your ride home!

5. Reduced carbon footprint

Transport has the biggest impact on greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, producing around a quarter of all emissions across the country. With 12.5 million people driving to work and back in a car or van every day, cycling or walking to work is a great way to improve both your own health and that of the planet.

In fact, a study from the University of Oxford found that switching from the car to biking or walking for just one day a week can reduce a person’s individual carbon footprint by 0.5 tonnes per year. That means that if just 10% of the UK population switched to an ‘active transport’ just as cycling on their commute, we could save around 4% of all CO2 emissions from car travel.


It’s clear that cycling benefits not only our mental and physical wellbeing, but our planet’s health too. A great way to achieve everyday exercise, weight loss, or stamina building goals, integrating a daily bike ride or two into the everyday routine could be the route to a new healthy habit that’s not only healthy, but useful too!

Want to find out how you can support your workforce with their health & wellbeing goals? Head to our Corporate Health Plans page, where you can find resources, information, and more on our range of plans for every organisation.