Cycling for Fitness and Health

There are plenty of reasons to embrace bicycling in your fitness regimen. Cycling is a great way to take in the great outdoors, get where you need to go without wasting money on gasoline, and improve your cardiovascular health. Cycling is also a great way to burn calories. Depending on your body weight and how hard you choose to ride, you can burn between 400 and 500 calories on a one-hour bike ride.

If you choose to include bike riding in a gradual weight loss exercise regimen, you’ll be pleased with the results. Gradual weight loss – about one pound per week – helps maintain muscle tissue. Burning 3,500 calories equals a one pound weight loss; that said, a one hour bike ride daily can equal one pound of weight loss in just one week!

cycling for fitness
image courtesy of Michael Dorausch

Bike riding also helps with weight loss in its ability to burn fat and develop muscle. If you’re a new bicyclist, it may take a few weeks to get past the initial soreness and to the point of being able to challenge the large (quadriceps and hamstring) and small (calf) leg muscles, which will become stronger and better developed over time. Not only does the improved muscle tone make your body look great, it raises the resting metabolic rate, which means you will burn more calories at rest.

Bicycling is also a great way to strengthen the body’s abdominal and back (core) muscles. A strong core contributes not only to good balance and posture, but it enhances your ability to perform daily tasks as well – lifting groceries, carting kids around, performing yard work and pretty much any tasks that require strength and tone.

If you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle when you decide to take up cycling for fitness, don’t bite off more than you can chew at first. Stick to cycling one hour daily, at a pace that doesn’t cause you to keel over, and use the early weeks of riding to build your strength and stamina. Taking on too much too soon can result in injury or burnout, neither of which is going to help you succeed with your weight loss and physical fitness regimen. If you smoke cigarettes, now is the time to quit. If necessary, wean yourself off of sugar, caffeine, alcohol and anything else that is counterintuitive to a healthy lifestyle.

cycling for fitness
image courtesy of Pacopac

Once you establish a regular cycling routine and you’re beginning to feel the beneficial effects, start making the nutritional changes that will help steer you toward the healthier, stronger body you’re after. Increase your protein intake, try to eat more fruits and veggies, replace processed foods with whole grains and try to eliminate carbs. Once the dietary changes are in place, your body will shed excess weight while fueling muscle development, and the changes will be dramatic and swift.

Over time, bicycling will have you feeling stronger, leaner, and more energized. As long as you stick with cycling as a daily activity and maintain a healthy diet, your weight will stop being an issue and your body image will be better than you may have ever imagined.

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