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Cycling for Weight Loss and Exercising

Updated on February 8, 2013

Biking is great for fitness and weight control:

If the clothes in your wardrobe are beginning to feel a little tight then it’s a sure sign you’re gaining weight and need to shed some pounds.

While most people reach for a diet that’s about where it usually ends as well, with no real thought about a lifestyle change for long-term weight control. Let me convince you to reconsider, and in particular start a cycling regime to help you in weight loss maintenance.

Regular exercise should be a part of any complete weight loss plan. And for those of us not too keen on jogging or running as our preferred exercise let me introduce you to cycling.

In most places you can ride on the roads for at least three out of the four seasons.

Biking can burn extra calories and help you to shed body fat. But cycling is also excellent for the health of your heart and can provide a way to get around your neighborhood that is cheaper than taking your car everywhere you need to go!

Cycling Can Be Fun:

If you can find a form of physical activity that provides a pleasurable form of recreation then staying motivated is much easier to accomplish. And there’s nothing better than cycling down a rural road with the sun on your back and the wind in your face.

Start your cycling routine with some simple breathing exercises that'll prepare your lungs for the workout to come. Then cycle for an average of 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Intersperse your biking with some interval training. This steps things up a notch and challenges your body to work harder to burn calories.Don't do this on your first trip out. Get a few sessions under your belt before increasing intensity.

If you live close enough to your work to bike then start incorporating that into your routine. Try it for a day or two a week to start. If this scenario does not fit with your life then you can begin right away to start cycling in your free time and start reaping the health benefits.

When you also observe healthy dietary habits and take good care of yourself then the positive changes should start to show very soon.  Riding a bike at a moderate speed, which translates to riding 12 to 14 miles per hour (mph), will allow you to burn an estimated 235 calories in 30 minutes.

How many calories you burn varies from person to person. It also has a lot to do with your present body weight and the intensity with which you ride. Doing some speed work during your cycling can help to increase the exertion on your body and make it work harder. In turn this will encourage your body to burn more calories.

Causes of Weight Gain:

Weight gain can be blamed on three factors. The first cause or factor is a reduced level of energy because of decreased activity. The second is when a lack of physical activity is coupled with not changing the amount of food you eat on a daily basis. The third factor is simply eating the wrong foods on a consistent basis.

In order to lose weight you must expend approximately 3,000 calories week (which is equal to an estimated one hour of moderate exercise daily) while taking in no more than 1500 calories per day. By adding cycling into your daily routine you can lose the weight you want to, and physical activity can also increase your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) or your Resting Energy Expenditure (REE).

Pedal Your Way to Losing Pounds:

The action of pedaling a bicycle aids in weight loss. Uphill cycling as well as high intensity cycling is an excellent means of developing the muscles in your body to make them stronger. At the same time it burns fat as well. You want both to occur and cycling accomplishes this.

When you ride a bike you work the large and small muscles of the legs. This allows them to become more developed. The large muscles include the quadriceps and hamstring while the small muscles are the calf muscles.

As the muscles become stronger they lend themselves to a body that has less fat and is both stronger and leaner. Another advantage of this is that it raises the resting metabolic rate. This means you burn more and more calories even when your body is at rest. This is good news for the avid cyclist.

Four, six or even eight hours after your biking routine you'll still be burning calories, even if you are sitting at your computer working, watching television or taking a nap! That is the beauty of it.

The advantages of biking do not end there. When you bike on a consistent basis you strengthen the core area of your body. The core of your body is your abdominal region as well as your back muscles. Developing a strong core can not only help you to shed pounds but it can also lend itself to better balance and posture. Both are important for many things you do in the run of a day such as lifting items and doing chores.

Gradual weight loss is the healthiest route to take to lose body fat. Aim to drop no more than one to two pounds weekly. Losing weight gradually is easier for your heart to adjust to and it also helps your body to maintain muscle tissue. It is also much more likely to guarantee that your weight loss goals will be successful on a long term basis

Start Your Biking at a Moderate Pace:

When you’re just starting out on an exercise program the key is to cycle at a moderate speed. Your current body weight and the intensity of the riding you do will determine how many calories you lose. In general a one hour bike ride will have you burning anywhere from 400 to 500 calories at a time.

If you have been sedentary for some time now then don’t run out and buy a bicycle today and start riding it like crazy. For the sake of your health schedule a physical and tell your doctor of your intended plans to lose weight by cycling.

Once you’re given the okay to do so then you can proceed with your cycling plans but take it slow. Here is where the word moderation comes into play once again. You cannot make up for months (or years!) of being a couch potato in a matter of days or weeks by biking to get yourself back into shape. The body needs time to become acclimatized to the new changes you’re introducing.

Take your time. Start out with a five minute bike ride around your neighborhood and then work up to 10 minutes. Give yourself as much time as you need to do this. You’re not in a race by any means. Do not limit yourself to cycling though.

Next Steps:

Participate in other forms of physical activities whenever possible. Throwing a Frisbee or tossing a football around with your sons on a Saturday afternoon is exercise and will do your body good. And when you feel ready to aim for the next level then introduce interval type training for your cycling exercise.

With interval work on a bike you can achieve the same calorie burning workout in ½ the time. This type of exercising has you cycling slow for two minutes and then increasing intensity for one minute, before slacking off for two and repeating intensity for one minute. Continue with this pattern – and increasing in intensity each time for up to 20 minutes.

Be careful not to shoot for longer than 20 minutes as anything beyond will add body fat rather than remove it.

There is a science behind interval training and its aid in weight loss but I'm not the expert and if it interests you to learn more and how to adapt it to many forms of exercising and not just cycling then you can learn all about Dr Al Sears PACE Exercise Program for Weight Loss here.

What is your favorite form of exercise

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I used to love bike riding when I was younger. Now I walk for exercise and garden. Good advice in this hub for those with good knees and safe places to bicycle.

    • profile image

      Jed Smith 

      7 years ago

      Yes, I rode my bike everywhere when growing up - in fact it was my only form of transport, outside walking. Enjoyed riding everywhere as well - level of independence. But I tend to run now for exercise as I find cycling for exercise requires too much preparation.

    • profile image

      Dr Mohamed Rabie 

      7 years ago

      I love cycling so much. When I was young, I was always ride my bicycle around our house.

      It is a good thing to know that cycling is decreases weight. But, in fact, I need to gain some weight :D!

      I know this will happen without any trial :D

      Lets hope that it never comes; to stay cycling only for fun, not as a diet.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      My favorite form of exercise is walking, including uphill walking and hiking. I do have a bike but don't like riding it on roads. Luckily, the community where I live is building more and more bike trails, so I'm starting to cycle more than I have in the past. Cycling is great exercise. Thanks for an informative hub.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I love riding my bike but just wish motorists would give more room to me - seems like they don't seem me to last minute and think it fun to beep just before they pass as much as to say what you doing here. I have a much right the road! Sorry for rant. But I agree it is great form of exercise and appreciating the area.


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