Help! Are there health benefits to unicycling?

Hey Folks,

I was wondering if anyone of you guys can help me out. I’m trying to dig up some information on the health benefits of using a unicycle. Does it work your core and abs? What about quads and hamstrings?

If you’re familiar with personal training or are a kinesiologist or an expert please contact me ASAP.

I’m very green when it comes to this field, so any direction I can get is much appreciated!


Or does anybody know someone?

Yes and yes. It can also work the calf muscles, depending on the rider’s technique.

The quads and glutes do the bulk of the work in most riding conditions, but once the riding gets technical the abs, lower back and obliques come into play. I find, after a long session of trials riding, my back and abs can get quite sore.

Yes, I know someone.

Perhaps you should ask some more specific questions, as there are plenty of smart people on these boards… we may not know what you mean by “health benefits”.

Sorry if I was vague on “health benefits.” I’m trying to put together a story on unicycling but with an exercise angle attached to it.

The reason why I asked about a personal trainer or kinesiologist is that if Ican quote someone who is an expert on the human body and unicycles it makes the story credible.

I appreciate the quick response btw!

I believe the unicycle is single best exercise machine in the world. It’s the ultimate cross trainer for all other sports. You can’t beat using the power of balance to fine tunes your core muscles. Its low impact, leg strengthening workout is an unparalleled cardio-builder. Combined with a little stretching, you will be fit for life.

I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but my bed was really comfortable.

Is it not obvious?

Sorry, I haven’t seen any research specifically with unicycles by qualified people. I’d like to see an infomerial on T.V. by one of those Dr. dudes.:wink:

This is a forum for unicycling, and there are definitely experts on unicycling here, but I don’t know that there are many, if any, of the experts on the human body amongst our community. We’re quite apt at answering questions, but if you can’t give us specific questions, you might not get any answers at all.

You can definitely gather many testamonials from the community, if you give us a framework in which to produce our answers… such as, “How has unicycling helped you lose weight?” or “How has unicycling helped you build muscle?” There are already threads in this group that detail how some members have gained fitness, and even rehabilitated themselves from serious injuries through unicycling and related activities.

Perhaps you need to consult a P.T. outside the community to help you build such questions?


Thanks for the information. Yeh if we had an informercial we would be all set!


I’m just doing a task that the company asked me to do. I went through the threads that were posted before and really didnt have anything useful, unfortunately.

I’ll come up with a series of specific questions later on today that will hopefully be what you are looking for. Just out of curiousity, any suggestios on personal training forums?

You might want to look at some back issues of Uni magazine, I think there is stuff that might be useful for you in there. Then you can reference it and everything.

And also try a better search through the forums. We have threads asking just about the exercise of unicycling, how strong riders have gotten from riding, any life changes it helped them through, etc.

Unicycling is like the miracle pill. Except, it doesnt come in pill form. It wouldnt be fun to ride a pill…

You have high cholesterol at 14 :astonished: what have you parents been feeding you on? or do you have an illness :o

I use distance unicycling as cross training for ultramarathon running. Adding this cross training gave me my best year of race performances yet. This doesn’t necessarily imply anything special about unicycling, although I think it has some unique qualities that I’ll touch on next, but it does show that it is effective cross training for distance running. Supplementing miles run with miles on a unicycle, and even replacing many miles of running with miles riding, resulted in improved foot race performance.

So distance unicycling is effective for cross training as a runner. Part of my improvement can be attributed to just being motivated to get out and ride more often than I’m motivated to run alone. It’s effective training, and I train more often, and so I see improved results. But I think that unicycling also has some advantages above just being effective training. For example, like a bicycle in works the major muscle groups involved in running, but unlike a bicycle it also gives a core workout and involves active balance, both of which improve running performance. As an ultramarathon runner, I train at a fairly low heart rate, and in general this is better approximated by riding my unicycle than my bicycle. My unicycle speed is limited by balance rather than cardiovascular or muscular fitness, whereas my bicycle speed is limited only by how hard I can push on the pedals. My every bicycle ride becomes a speed workout, an important supplement to lots of miles at my target heart rate, but not where I want to be every day.

I am trained as a running coach, but this experience is just an n-of-1 experiment as I try to fit enough training into a busy life to improve in my races before my age starts moving my performances in the other direction.

Hope that helps,

It’s amazing how much work your deltoids get unicycling! The workout from the waist down is obvious but just try holding your arms out horizontal and waving them around for a couple of hours, or try doing standard skills without moving your arms.

Unicycling is decent exercise, but it depends on what you do (trials, MUni, Distance, etc.). If you’re looking for better fitness, your time would be better spent running, biking, or lifting weights. If you want to get better at unicyling, unicycle.

There are definitely health benefits. If you are unicycling you are still alive.

I think mile for mile, MUni is a superior form of exercise than biking, which gives the rider the opportunity to just sit there and coast down steep hills, more than 15 gears to help them climb, handlebars to rest, no constant attention and focus on acute balance requirements, and so on. While running can be a good way to get fit, it’s also much harder on the body, especially the knees and spine, plus the fact that you’re not carrying the extra weight (14-22lbs depending on uni and with or without backpack) of a MUni as you go. And lifting weights does SQUAT (Pun intended) for aerobic fitness. I MUni 5-7 days a week and have found it to be the best overall way to get and stay fit. :slight_smile:

Mile per mile maybe, but hour per hour I’d have to disagree. It really depends on the person though. Potential for better exercise goes to biking rather than unicycling.

Running shouldn’t be that hard on your knees or spine if you have correct form. You will get a lot more fit running than MUniing for the same amount of time, assuming you run and don’t jog.

Lifting weights does nothing for aerobic, but it doesn’t mean nobody should lift weights. Lifting weights builds muscle which burns calories even after you’re done lifting. So if you want improved fitness, lifting weights should be included in your overall workout plan.

I understand that you’ve had success with unicycling and losing weight, which I think is awesome. If I could keep my fitness just unicycling I would, but for time purposes running does so much more.

Core strength exercises (like crunches or planks) will do more for core strength than just unicycling in less time.

Perhaps a better reason that unicycling is a good exercise (boisei touched on this a little) is that it’s fun. The best training gear/plan in the world won’t get you fit, getting out and exercising will.

Muni has done far more than just help me lose weight; it has totally transformed my body & soul to the extent that nothing ever has. I used to be an avid runner, doing marathons and so on, but MUni is an all-encompassing, and yes, FUN way to get in the best shape of your life! But I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree, lol. There is just no way that biking is anywhere near as effective as MUni-ing, mile for mile, imo.:slight_smile: Low, LOW gears and coasting and no real focus on balance and/or hopping, gapping, etc., makes biking a walk in the park by comparison.

For me while riding challenging terrain, I burn twice the energy as I would by bike for the same amount of time. Since I can only ride about half as fast as I can bike, I burn nearly 4X as much energy on the uni vs. a bike, mile for mile.

If I’m looking for the maximum benefit for my time it’d be best to do some strength training, cardio, and stretching. Unicycling, swimming, rock climbing and wresling give me the best workouts of the sports I’ve tried (but rock climbing and wresling are hard to do constantly, so the workout is often less).

Hey guys, bumping the threasd because now I’m doing a persuasive essay on “Unicycling being a better more fun way to stay in shape than other sports mile to mile/hour to hour.” I need some more opinmions though from both sides so if other people want to contribute that’d be awesome. Anyway this thread fits the needs of my paper really well(two differing opinions presenting arguments) While I’m here I might as well contribute my 2 cents I guess. I personally think that unicycling has kept me in some of the best shape I’ve ever been in, it’s improved my balance, core strength, leg strength, focus, and endurance. Besides wrestling I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a better workout from any other sport or activity.

No way!!! If you could only do one, unicycles are way better than the 3 mentioned above.

But the best fitness is to cross train with lots of activities. But like you say, there are a lot of different sports on a unicycle.