cycling heart

The Heart of Cycling

The identified benefits of exercise date back as far as Hippocrates (460–370 BC) who believed that training improves stature, bone and muscle mass, muscle tone, endurance, and digestion as well as increasing temperature regulation and tolerance against fatigue (Tipton, 2007). As science progressed, evidence for Hippocrates’s claims were supported with evidence-based research demonstrating the positive health benefits associated with exercise. Currently, the American Heart Association (AHA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) all recommend regular exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.

It is clear that the body is meant to move in order to maintain optimal health. As cycling instructors, the way that we guide that movement offers riders specific benefits to their health and well-being by way of an exercise prescription. How does this information apply specifically to heart health and the prevention of heart disease? First, let’s look at what is known about heart disease and then discuss how the indoor cycling instructor can make an impact in the lives of their riders.

According to the most recent statistics from CDC, heart disease or coronary artery disease (CAD) is the number one cause of death and accounts for 610,000, or 1 in every 4 adult deaths, annually (2016). As recently as 30 years ago, the risks for heart disease were categorized as minor risk factors and major risk factors. At that time, a sedentary lifestyle was considered to be a minor risk factor, meaning that it may be related to the development of cardiovascular disease, but was not necessarily the focus of prevention.


American Cancer Society (2015). Exercise Linked With Lower Risk of 13 Types of Cancer. Retrieved from:

American College of Sports Medicine (2017) ACSM Issues New Recommendations on Quantity and Quality of Exercise. Retrieved from:

Centers for Disease Control (2015) How much physical activity do adults need? Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Hillmeister, P., Buschmann, E., Persson, P. B., & Bondke Persson, A. (2017, January). Exercise for healthy flow. Acta Physiologica. pp. 3–8. doi:10.1111/apha.12831.

Tipton, C. (2014), The history of “Exercise Is Medicine” in ancient civilizations

Advances in Physiology Education Jun 2014, 38 (2) 109–117; DOI: 10.1152/advan.00136.2013


  1. Great article, and timely.

  2. I love this type of exercise science article that supplies us instructors with info we can share with all class participants about the importance and benefits of regular exercise. More like this, please!

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