We all know cycling is a good way to lose weight, but why does it work so well? In this post, we will take a quick look at cycling and its effects on the body, as well as how it compares to other similar activities.
Cycling Burns Calories
To understand how cycling helps cut down weight, you have to understand how calories work. Your body stores calories every time you eat and burns them through metabolism, giving you the energy to maintain your temperature, let you move around, and keep your body processes going.
However, your body doesn’t burn as much calories as it consumes if you have very little physical activity. Whatever isn’t burned ends up getting stored as fat. To make matters worse, your body will get used to not burning that much calories and lower your metabolism, which means it’ll burn even less calories.
Where does cycling come in? Well, you burn more calories if you move around a lot. According to recent studies, a 200lb person could burn about 228 calories by walking for an hour. However, riding a bike for the same amount of time will let the same person burn about 384 calories.
Why Not Just Use A Stationary Bike?
Okay, maybe cycling is a better workout for you, but what’s stopping you from using a stationary bike instead? You don’t have to worry about the sun, no incoming traffic to pay attention to, and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home. Why bother taking a ride?
Aside from being a lot more interesting (stationary cycling can be boring, and believe me, working out while bored is anything but rewarding), actually riding a bike outdoors actually works better because you also use more muscles to stay in balance or shifting your body to turns or manage sloped surfaces.
Other Health Benefits of Cycling
Cycling doesn’t just help your body burn calories; it also helps your body by making it more efficient. The more you ride your bike, the more your body prioritizes burning calories during exercise. You read that right – cycling also makes other forms of exercise more effective!
And it’s not just about weight loss; cycling is also great for training your heart, lungs, and pretty much all the necessary muscles to perform better. You’ll have better stamina (which means you can exercise more), lower the risks of heart diseases, and ultimately help increase your lifespan.
Start Cycling the Right Way
We’ve talked about the benefits, and now you’re probably ready to get on a bike and pedal the weight away! Having the drive is good, but you need to start cycling the proper way. I know people who were too eager to start cycling but got disappointing results because they didn’t start the right way.
One of the first things you need to do is to look for the right bike. A poorly-sized bike can be annoying and even dangerous in the long run. Make sure that your bike isn’t too big that you’re tiptoeing when standing still, but not too small that you’re feeling cramped. Don’t hesitate to try multiple bikes ask someone for assistance if you don’t know what measurements to look for.
You also have to learn more about the different cycling styles available. Most beginners are familiar with road cycling where you just ride along the roads, but you may also want to try out trail biking or mountain biking. Some styles require more riding skill and stamina and can be considered an advanced form of workout if you want more out of cycling.
Because different cycling styles require different bikes, you have to be careful when choosing one. Sure, riding a mountain bike on the road is okay, but you’ll have an easier time riding on a dedicated road bike. If you’re not sure about what bike to get, a hybrid bike is usually a safe pick.
Some people want to ride solo, but you may also want to consider riding with a more experienced cyclist. Aside from being safer and more visible on the road, your fellow rider can also give you tips on how to pedal more efficiently or what to watch out for while riding. You can think of them as a training coach of some sort.
Staying Fit for Cycling
Cycling helps you become fit, but you also have to be fit enough to keep riding. You have to keep yourself from burning out by giving your body enough rest. Waking early for a morning ride is good, but not if you stayed up late last night. Your body won’t have a chance to recuperate and you may still be too tired to focus while on the road.
Keep in mind that cycling should not be an excuse to go easy on your diet. You won’t lose that much weight if you’re stuffing in a lot of unnecessary calories in your body. You’d want protein rich food like beans, fish, and lean meat, and you’d also want to keep yourself hydrated at all times, especially since you’ll be sweating a lot while on the road.
You should also pay attention to the nutrients that you need. Vitamin A,D, E, and K will help your body recover faster, while vitamin C will boost your body’s resistance against diseases. You can get most of your nutrients from fruit and vegetables, but you can also resort to vitamin supplements if you can’t find certain food (just avoid relying on them too much).
That wraps up my take on cycling for weight loss. Cycling may take some time to get used to, but the long term benefits and the self-satisfaction of conquering long rides (and your weight!) make all the trouble worth it. I’m looking forward to seeing you on the road!
Robert Parker is an avid cyclist and the founder of Cyclistchallenge.com, a website dedicated to the hobby. He frequently shares helpful cycling tips through his blog posts to help beginners and experienced riders alike. Robert spends most of his spare time riding bikes both on and off the road.