Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Cycling can be great for your health.

Cycling can be great for your health.
beginning of content

Cycling tips for beginners

3-minute read

Cycling is a truly invigorating and liberating experience, enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Whether you're cycling to work, to school, to the shops or just for fun, the humble bicycle is an easy way to get more active.

Regular cycling can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control.

This guide is designed to make cycling a safe and enjoyable experience for beginners, and provide you with tips on staying motivated.

Before you start

For most people, cycling is a safe and effective form of exercise. If you have any health concerns or an existing medical problem, see your doctor before you start.

For short journeys, any good working bike will do. You might have an old shopping bike or a bargain mountain bike that you could use.

A 30-minute ride will count towards your recommended weekly activity target.

If you're buying a second-hand bike or you have an old bike that's been gathering dust, consider having it serviced at a specialist bike shop to ensure it's roadworthy.

If you're buying a new bike, there are many models to choose from. Hybrids, road bikes and mountain bikes are the most popular.

A specialist bike shop will advise you on the correct frame size and help you select a bike to suit your budget and the type of cycling you want to do.

There are also bikes available for people with disabilities.

Remember, wearing a bicycle helmet is compulsory in Australia.

Starting out

If you haven't cycled much before or you're out of the habit of cycling, find yourself a traffic-free area to start off in, such as your local park.

Practise riding single-handed so you can make hand signals, and get comfortable looking, over both shoulders to improve your visual awareness. Some people prefer to attach a small mirror to their bike's handelbars or helmet to help them see what's behind them.

Before you start cycling in traffic, check the road rules and regulations for cyclists.

For health benefits, adults and older adults are recommended to do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.

Children and young people are recommended to do at least one hour (60 minutes) of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every day.

A 30-minute ride, where your breathing is quicker and deeper, will count towards your recommended weekly activity target.

If you're just getting started, take it slowly and increase your cycle rides gradually. Any improvement on what you currently do is beneficial.

Ensure you stop and seek medical advice if you are feeling unwell.

Staying motivated

Make it a habit

The easiest way to ensure you cycle regularly is to use your bike as a means of everyday transport. If you want some company on your bike ride, whether it's to work or just for fun, find a cycling pal.

Cycle to work

Commuting by bike is cheap, green and one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your routine. Ask your office manager or human resources representative if there are showers and bike storage available.

Cycle to school

Riding to school is a great way to get the kids more active. Cycling has many benefits for children such as improved health, confidence and concentration. Parents may want to accompany younger children, which makes it a good way for grown-ups to get cycling too.

Mix it up

There are many places to cycle in cities and the countryside. Cycling is an ideal way for friends and families to explore their neighbourhood and beyond.

Join a bike ride

From charity rides to park cycles, signing up for a bike ride is a great way to stay motivated and experience the great outdoors.

Last reviewed: October 2016

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Healthy Kids : Cycling

Find out more about recreational physical activity that young people can participate in with information on cycling and places to cycle.

Read more on Healthy Kids website

LiveLighter - Active Transport

Read more on LiveLighter website

Over Bl**dy Eighty

A marvellous collection of personal stories from older Australians

Read more on beyondblue website

Kids' Health - Topics - Riding a bike

Getting a bike is really exciting. At last you can go off and join your mates, you can go places that are too far to walk, you can take yourself round to friends, you can go on bike rides, you can....

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Cycling - health benefits - Better Health Channel

Cycling can help to protect you from serious diseases.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Kids' Health - Topics - Fitness

Stamina (say sta-min-a), or endurance, (en-dew-rans) means the ability of your body to continue fitness activities for a long time.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Kids' Health - Topics - What is obesity?

Obesity is what doctors call it when you have too much body fat. Obesity can lead to health problems.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Pregnancy - Pregnancy Topics - Exercise in pregnancy

Being pregnant for 40 or so weeks is a physical challenge! The fitter you are to begin with, the better - but it is never too late to start.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

The hater's guide to exercise | Exercise and eating well | ReachOut Australia

Find out why getting active is so important, learn how to change your mindset about it, and get tips on how to create your own personalised routine.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Healthy Kids : Active Living for Families

Provides advice on ways to be active as a family. If you'd like your child to be healthy, start by looking at yourself and your family. Being active as a family allows you to be good role models, it helps everyone reduce stress, and it's a chance to have fun together.

Read more on Healthy Kids website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo