As a bicycler I used to travel on cycle daily for about half an hour to maintain fitness of my legs and body. But I want to know how much time and distance is needed for a good exercise.

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    "half an hour" a day of activity is enough to maintain basic health and is generally recommended for all healthy adults. How far do you ride in that half-hour and at what relative intensity? IE are you cruising about, or going hard? Are there a lot of stops at lights (ie recovery time) or are you moving most of the time?
    – Criggie
    Nov 15, 2018 at 9:08
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    Quality matters more than quantity. Cycling for half an hour at walking pace gives you barely any exercise at all -- much less than walking for half an hour, since bikes are ridiculously efficient. Nov 15, 2018 at 9:19
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    The fitter you get, the more kilometers you'll want to ride. When I restarted riding after an eight year pause, I started with something like eight kilometers a day. That was all I could do. Now, I'm doing at least 25km a day, but usually I take some detours bringing the figure up to 35km. Just because the longer route is more fun. At some point of fitness, the extra cost of additional kilometers just becomes negative... Nov 15, 2018 at 9:26
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    @Criggie someday I cruise and someday go hard, and their are 2 stops at lights.But this recovery time for me is very short and I keep moving most of the time.
    – Hamza Saif
    Nov 15, 2018 at 18:24
  • Yeah I agree with u @cmaster as it's all about stamina of a person.
    – Hamza Saif
    Nov 15, 2018 at 18:32

5 Answers 5


As individual speeds vary depending on fitness, bike and conditions, most information on this subject discusses intensity and time spend exercising, rather than distance. Most leisure cyclists ride between 10-18mph (16-30kph) on the road, a bit less off-road. As you can see it's a fairly wide range, so time and intensity are better measures.They can also more easily be applied to other sports.

For good health, the WHO recommends:

Adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week.

If you'd like to improve your cycling fitness as well as your health, then British Cycling has a number of beginners training plans, depending on what you would like to achieve.

However, not everyone responds the same way to exercise, so the improvements are not guaranteed.

  • 1
    I'd modify your first sentence to say that most information discusses time spent exercising and intensity. Nov 17, 2018 at 10:12

There is no real answer to this, as it totally depends on what you mean by 'good exercise'.

For a professional racing cyclist it means 30 hours a week of structured training including effort above an below that required for an actual race.

For adults the American Heart Association recommends as a minimum:

at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both,

How many km and at what level of effort you can ride depends on your current level of fitness. Work up to a level that is sustainable and enjoyable for you.


I have no hard data to answer this, just my experience: I commute every day, 13 km one way, practically flat, and I do my best to do the route in 30-35 minutes with a city bike.

My legs are pretty toned, and when I have to step up on the travelled distance it's not a big deal.

But a more precise answer strongly depends on the single individual.

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    This is anecdotal but a fine answer. I also travel circa 10km one way, to work and back 5 days a week. This works very well to keep muscular strength and overall fitness top notch. (as long as you eat sensibly as well). TLDR: 3-4 hours / 100 km / 60 miles per week Nov 15, 2018 at 14:27

The distance covered is only one measure of your trip. The efforts and rewards of an exercise session will be related to both the length and the intensity.

Your 30 minutes could be 5 km at a casual dawdle, or 20 km at a hard pace.

Slower sustained riding builds the "slow twitch" fibres which can fire repeatedly for long times but aren't that strong. These are "endurance" muscles and help you ride for a long time.

Short, High intensity efforts build the "fast twitch" fibres, which are the "sprint" muscles. These get tired real quick and once that happens you have to slow down.

Riders with high endurance can ride all day at a moderate pace. Riders with fast twitch muscles can burst into fast sprints but may not have as much endurance. Ideally you want both.

Relevance? You need to mix it up - for example: From a red traffic light, go hard in a bigger gear than normal, right up to your fastest speed for as long as you can, then relax.

See if you can vary your route to get in a hill or slope to climb. Move your position on the bike a little, to recruit and train other muscles - you'll feel this.


As a bicycler I used to travel on cycle daily for about half an hour to maintain fitness of my legs and body. But I want to know how much time and distance is needed for a good exercise.

Depends on what your goal is.

If your goal is to get strong muscles, I suspect half an hour of hard riding, riding on a hilly terrain, sprinting from stoplights, climbing hills standing is enough. A 3-hour ride won't develop your muscles more than a half-hour ride would do, because the last hours you are anyway so tired that your average speed drops and you aren't using the full strength of your muscles anymore.

If your goal is to reduce weight by burning fat, I would suggest to allocate much more than half an hour for your ride. Start to ride to some direction. When you start to feel exhausted and your average speed drops, start to ride back using the same route. This way, half of your cycling time is done when you are exhausted. This is important: fat releases energy slower than carbohydrates do. To burn fat, you need to exhaust your supply of carbohydrates first. The exhaustion occurs because your supply of carbohydrates stops and energy comes from burning fat.

If you carefully calibrate the length of your trip so that you will be back at the moment you start to feel exhausted, you won't lose much weight. The important part is that you have to ride when feeling exhausted, to lose weight.

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