8 Facts About Biking and the Prostate

April 08,2022 |
Man riding a bike.

Getting an adequate amount of exercise is an important part of keeping your body healthy, especially as you age. According to the American Heart Association, you should be getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. If you’re engaging in vigorous activity, this recommendation drops to 75 minutes. The type of exercise you perform is up to you, but many aging men have their concerns about cycling. In the past, there has been a lot of speculation as to the impact cycling has on the prostate. However, riding a bicycle for weekly aerobic activity isn’t necessarily going to negatively impact your health. To clear the air regarding this controversial topic, here are eight facts about biking and the prostate.


What is the Prostate?

The prostate is an integral part of the male reproductive system. It’s a walnut size gland that sits below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate is responsible for creating fluid for semen, which is mixed with sperm to facilitate ejaculation and conception. The prostate is one of the only glands that never stops growing, which can lead to problems like benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)—enlarged prostate—in older men. If cellular mutations occur, this ongoing growth can also contribute to increase rates of prostate cancer. Similarly, the prostate can cause common urologic conditions such as urgency, urinary retention, and prostatitis. 


Important Facts to Know About Cycling and the Prostate

Many people assume that men who cycle long distances will inevitably end up with prostate issues. While there are studies that have connected increased rates of prostate cancer in individuals who train for eight hours a week or more, these statistics aren’t the norm. On the contrary, there are plenty of positive reasons that you should continue to ride your bike, especially as you get older. Always speak with your doctor regarding new exercise regimens and if you feel any discomfort or notice signs of a problem, seek medical attention as soon as possible. When it comes to the prostate, the early you treat issues, the better.


1. Biking May Reduce the Risk of Advanced Prostate Cancer

Performing any type of moderate to intense exercise can help keep your body healthy and reduce the risk of certain cancers. While it won’t completely eliminate your risk, active people tend to have stronger immune systems and can more readily fight off cancer cells. This can decrease the severity, speed of spread, and recurrence of certain types of cancer. In regard to prostate cancer, it was found that men who performed 25 minutes of high-intensity cycling each day were about 30% less likely to develop advanced prostate cancer.

Research indicates that this is because intense exercise like cycling helps to increase antigens throughout the blood. In men, this includes prostate-specific antigens (PSA), which can contribute to early detection and stronger immune response. Each period of vigorous exercise elevated PSA levels for about 24 hours, which is why regular workouts are beneficial. 


2. Cycling Does Not Cause Infertility

One common misconception about cycling as a male is that it can lead to infertility. This isn’t exactly true. In reality, cycling can decrease the concentration of sperm within the testicles, but it has no impact on fertility of each individual sperm. The sperm are still healthy and fully functioning, there just may be less in the semen. This, however, can make it more difficult to conceive, depending on other factors. A doctor may be able to help with low sperm count, but there are ways to reduce the impact of cycling on your body. For starters, the low sperm count was only documented in men who rode at least five hours a week. If you’re training, the minutes can easily add up. If you’re using cycling as a form of preventative exercise, aim for 30 minutes of activity each day. This results in only three and a half hours per week, which will help reduce biking’s impact on sperm count. Wearing the proper gear is also a good way to reduce this side effect.


3. Cycling Improves Insulin Sensitivity

Exercising is a great way to support the various systems within your body. One way that individuals benefit from regular cycling is an overall improvement in insulin sensitivity. This can contribute to lower growth cytokines like insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which can be precursors to certain urologic cancers. A stronger insulin sensitivity also strengthens your immune system through the increase of natural killer cells, lymphocytes, and a stronger ability for your body to recognize and attack cancer cells.


4. Biking Can Increase Inflammation

While cycling doesn’t directly cause prostate cancer, it can increase your risk of inflammation. This, in turn, may increase your risk for prostate cancer or other conditions such as prostatitis. However, there are plenty of preventative measures you can take to reduce the impact of the saddle on your body. Use the right gear to help counteract these effects and talk to your doctor at the first sign of increased inflammation. To help reduce the impact biking has on your body, consider creating a diverse exercise regimen so you can give your body a break and avoid chronic inflammation.


5. Biking Does Not Worsen Enlarged Prostate

Cycling can increase inflammation, but it hasn’t been found to worsen the progression of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cyclists who have an enlarged prostate don’t experience worsened symptoms when they ride, but they aren’t immune from previous symptoms affecting their exercise. The primary symptom that can disrupt a ride is the frequent need to urinate in those suffering from BPH. Talk to your doctor about options for treatment and management.


6. Proper Form and Gear Can Counteract Negative Effects

The type of clothes you wear along with your bicycle seat have a big impact on the effect biking has on your body. Luckily, these things are in your control. When you’re riding, make sure that you use proper form to prevent injury and lower impact on your joints. You should also choose a bike seat that has extra cushioning to help reduce inflammation in the prostate. Soft seats may not be a popular option for long-distance cycling, but they will help you take better care of your body and your prostate. It’s also recommended that men wear loose-fitting bike shorts to help reduce the risk of overheating the reproductive system. This further reduces your risk of decreasing sperm count. If you go on long-distance rides or begin to feel any type of numbness or other side effects, listen to your body and take a break. Cycling is great exercise, but don’t overdo it.


7. Cycling is Good for You

Cycling is a form of exercise that allows individuals to enjoy changing environments, outdoor weather, and a robust social life. It can help boost your physical health in addition to mental health, making it good for both the body and soul. Since cycling tends to take you to different places each day, you’re less likely to abandon the habit out of boredom or repetitiveness. By performing rigorous activity, you’ll build muscle mass, reduce fat, and even find relief or discomfort from certain ailments. Scientific studies have also found that men who performed at least three hours of rigorous outdoor exercise per week were 20% less likely to develop erectile dysfunction than those who live a sedentary life. As long as you take safety precautions, the benefits of cycling outweigh the risks.


8. Cyclists Should See Their Urologist Regularly

Men over 40 should see their urologist regularly regardless of their activity level. This allows you to keep an eye on your prostate health and catch any signs of cancer before it spreads into something more serious. If you’re new to cycling, talk to your doctor prior to beginning any vigorous routines. You should also speak to them regarding any questions, concerns, and to receive a baseline health exam before you begin cycling. This allows you to track your health and see how cycling impacts your body.


Staying active as you age is one of the best ways to support a healthy urologic system. Many common conditions associated with the prostate and urinary system occur due to age, diet, activity level, and other risk factors. They are not definitively caused by cycling. Seeing your urologist regularly will help you address any issues and undergo the proper treatment as needed. To help support your cycling journey, Byram Healthcare offers a wide range of urologic products to alleviate symptoms and take control of your life. Browse our urology product catalog today and enjoy fast, discreet delivery directly to your doorstep.