Get On Your Bike
The bicycle is probably the simplest machine invented that has provided far more benefits than people would have thought. If it was used solely as a means of transportation in the earlier days, these days bicycles have been improvised into a tricycle for toddlers, teens modify their bikes to make them look funkier and adults bike in extreme sports. Bicycles are still used to get people places; some children cycle to school while adults (mostly in Western countries) use it to go to the workplace. It is an inexpensive convenient choice that can save environment which is already polluted as it is.
Why should I bike if I am not all that concerned about the environment?
Here are some facts and figures which will make you want to take that bike out from the storeroom: People burn 235 calories when they ride at moderate speed (12 – 14 mph) for 30 minutes. The HealthStatus website came out with an even more precise calculation when it calculated that a 160-pound (72.5 kg) person biking at a leisurely pace for 60 minutes burns 288 calories while a 220-pound (99.7 kg) person biking at the same pace burns 396 calories.
Why is cycling so effective for weight loss?
Riding a bike is a form of aerobic exercises, which are physical exercises designed to strengthen the heart and lungs. When a person engages himself in aerobics exercises, he is actually ‘forcing’ his heart to pump harder to distribute blood and oxygen throughout the body. This ‘forced’ distribution process converts sugar and fat to muscular energy and increases blood circulation to clear out harmful toxins. Besides that, aerobic exercises fortify the heart by preventing heart disease and diabetes. As a result, you will gain more energy, your cardiovascular fitness improves and you are at lower risk of developing illnesses.
Bicycling isn’t just good for the heart and lungs. Bicycling also goes easy on the joints, muscles and tendons. It is a form of resistance and isometric training which helps to tone, strengthen and shape the leg, arm, abdominal and back muscles. When the legs and the core of your body is strengthened, your balance and posture will improve. If you experience severe leg cramps, do not let that deter you from cycling. In fact, cycling helps to reduce the cramping incidences.
Cycling isn’t just good for the body; the mind benefits greatly from it too. Cycling gets rid of cortisol, a stress hormone that prevents deep sleep. You’d enjoy quality sleep after you’ve cycled all your stress away. As such, bicycling burns calories amazingly, sheds body fat and ensures you sleep better at night. Sports physiologists support these findings and interestingly, also stated that our body’s metabolic rate is not only raised during the ride but also remains at a high several hours afterwards.
How can my metabolic rate remain high after I’ve stopped cycling?
Your body’s resting metabolic rate is raised when you are cycling. The higher the resting metabolic rate is, the more calories you will burn, even at rest. This means that as you take a nice shower after that sweaty bike ride, calories are still being burned in your body!
Besides weight loss, muscle development is another factor that prompts people to bike. Cycling employs your own muscle power to propel your body weight and the weight of the bicycle when it goes forward against wind and gravity, and even against the resistance of the ground surface. Depending on your body weight, speed and the intensity of your ride, you can burn between 400 to 500 calories on a one-hour bicycling trip. Bicycling suppresses your appetite too, so if you stick to your cycling schedule, you will see results in no time.
Let the biking begin!
If you are ready to start biking towards a healthier, fitter and slimmer you, here are some tips to get you started.
1. Indoors or outdoors?
This is the first step in cycling to a fitter and healthier you. You must first decide if you want to cycle outdoors or indoors. Your decision plays a part in the preparation and the equipment that you will need to get. If you are back from work before the sun sets or love the air at the park, then cycling a bicycle is what you should do. Else, an exercise bike works just as well too. You could head to the gym or get a stationary bike to work out while watching TV at home.
2. Go equipment-shopping
If you are going to bike outdoors, head to the bicycle shop and ask for a recommendation. A bike fitting expert should be present at every bicycle shop, so be sure to ask for consultation. If you already have a bike, make sure that the tyres are well-pumped and the brakes are in excellent working condition.
If it’s a stationary bike that you are looking at, ask the staff at the home equipment gym to suggest a bike for you. If you are using the one at the gym, ask that the bike is well-adjusted for your body.
3. Draw out a schedule
It is hard to be focussed without a plan laid out in front of you. Determine a reasonable workout schedule. 2-3 days per week is enough to see the desired weight loss; there is no need to plan to cycle each day because it is likely that you will feel tired and forgo biking altogether.
4. Set a goal
How much weight do you want to lose? Ask yourself this before you start your biking regimen. As a guideline to ensure that your target set is realistic, a gradual weight loss of approximately one pound a week is a sensible goal. Let’s assume that 500 calories is burned during a one-hour bicycle ride. If you go for a daily ride, you will burn calories equivalent to one pound a week. That is indeed a good reason to go cycling.
5. Get a calories-burned calculator
Find a calculator that measures what you have consumed versus what you have burnt. Simply by entering your weight and the length of your ride and selecting the intensity of the workout, the calculator will be able to estimate the number of calories you have shed.
6. Pedal hard!
There is a simple tip suggested by a random avid cyclist for those who want to achieve weight loss through cycling. He suggested 30-minutes bike riding at a speed that you feel comfortable at. Within this 30 minutes, pedal hard until you feel you are almost out of breath. Then, slow down for a few seconds or minutes, depending on your comfort level, before resuming. Do this at least three times throughout the session for the best results.
7. Make cycling a part of life
Cycling doesn’t have to be an exercise that you do only three times a week. If you are heading to the sundry shop, bike there. If you find cycling alone is boring, search online for a mate from the neighbourhood or even a gang of cycling enthusiasts that you could join. Doing things in numbers is always more fun; you could also rope in your friends and family in this healthy movement.