From "Plain home talk about the human system--the habits of men and women--the cause and prevention of disease--our sexual relations and social natures" (1896)
Cycling is recommended for exercise to improve health:
Among popular modes of exercise, outing, and "sport," bicycle riding is the fin-de-siecle craze of the nineteenth century, and has, without doubt, tempted more people of all classes to healthful effort than any other form of exercise. It has been taken up by men, women, and children, of all ages from three to eighty, and is even being recommended as a new "cure-all" for a large variety of common complaints. Many physicians have not only experimented with its effects upon themselves, but also made a close study of the effects upon the people in general. Veteran riders have been subjected to inspection, to discover if any impairment of physique or function has been occasioned by it, but the tests thus far reported are very favorable to riding ,; the wheel." The lung capacity is markedly increased (about half an inch), and the heart (itself mainly a bundle of muscles) is somewhat increased in size and power — an effect which may in some cases be carried too far. In short, the whole muscular system shows development, for the muscles of the back, chest and arms are largely called into action, as well as those of the legs. Even in the men who ride "hump-backed" it has not been possible to discover any permanent physical deformity : but taking a spin, those who carry bicycling to excess, especially when not originally extra robust, are likely to suffer from nervous exhaustion, or by over-strain of the heart and arteries; and many sudden deaths, some from apoplexy, have followed speedy or long "runs."
Woman depicted riding a bike in an ad in The official directory of the World's Columbian exposition, May 1st to October 30th, 1893.
Text of the ad:
YOU NEED EXERCISE-there are several REASONS WHY-
IF YOU ARE A BUSINESS MAN, to clear your brain, to smooth off the rough edges of business cares. The Rambler Bicycle affords a medium/air excellence for "comfortable exercise."
IF IN POOR HEALTH s you can regain good health through the judicious use of the Bicycle — the Rambler Spring Frame reduces excessive vibration and makes exercise safe.
IF IN GOOD HEALTH,, Bicycle Riding will keep you so. In your children the Bicycle lays the foundation of a healthful and useful life. A good intellect reaches its highest excellence only in a healthy body.
IF YOU ARE A WOMAN, the Bicycle affords a most pleasant means of obtaining exercise, which you, of all others, most need. Riding any Bicycle is exercise — riding Rambler Bicycles is "comfortable and luxurious exercise."
IF YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, Bicycle Riding will preserve your beauty. Exercise means health. There is no real Beauty without Good Health.
IF YOU ARE NOT A BEAUTY, you may at least make yourself more attractive. The Bicycle brightens the eye, puts a flush of health on the cheek, takes you out to nature, to the pure fresh air. They are yours ; enjoy them — do it "luxuriously" on a Rambler Bicycle.
Today any number of health and exercise benefits are claimed for bicycling - just Google "health exercise bicycling."