Bike riding is an aerobic exercise that has been considered to be an excellent cardio workout. Depending on how fast one pedals, it can be considered moderate- or vigorous-intensity exercise. Biking helps in boosting the health of the heart and lungs, aids in improving blood flow, and builds muscle mass and strength.
Compared to running or jogging, it helps to raise the heart rate while exerting lesser strain on the knees, ankles, and other joints.
Biking, like other forms of regular physical activity, can help manage stress, regulate hunger, and improve sleep.
How can biking aid in weight loss?
When pedaling beyond a leisurely pace, we can burn calories and shed extra weight. Cycling at a fairly intense level for at least 30 minutes at a time is recommended by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) to lose weight. To burn even more calories, one can cycle for longer periods.
Here are some strategies for using a biking workout to aid with weight loss.
- Increase the intensity
- As we cycle faster, we utilize more energy and therefore, burn more calories in the process. This will consequently lead to greater weight loss. Moderate cycling can burn almost 300 calories in an hour.
- Opt for high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
If the primary goal of the exercise regimen is weight loss, exercise intensity matters more than speed. Higher-intensity cycling will burn more calories than if we pedal with low-intensity.
Using this principle, a great way to challenge our body is through HIIT. In HIIT, short bursts of high-intensity exercise are alternated with intervals of low-intensity exercise. We can burn fat and lose weight faster by opting for HIIT.
For biking, a HIIT workout will look something like this:
- Cycling fast against a high resistance for 30 to 60 seconds
- Cycling with low resistance for 2 to 3 minutes
- Repeat the above pattern for 20 to 30 minutes
HIIT can help us burn more calories in lesser time, improve cardio fitness and facilitate fat burning. HIIT can also be combined with a regular exercise program for these same goals.
HIIT has been shown to result in a 28.5 % greater loss in fat mass when compared to constant, moderate activity. Even when a biker stops pedaling and finishes the HIIT workout, the metabolism remains active. This results in caloric consumption at a higher rate, even after the body returns to its normal, resting state.
Go further, build endurance
Just when the individual feels like they’ve had enough exercise training, it’s better to try to go a bit further. Endurance training is based on this concept, and burning fat and weight loss can be accelerated through endurance training. When building endurance, it’s always recommended to start at a slow pace. Therefore, he/she can start with 10 to 15 minutes of cycling and then add a few minutes to each session. This pattern can be followed until a certain pre-determined limit (for example, 150 minutes of cycling is reached in a week).
Cross-training may be a wonderful option if the person does not like being confined to one activity. By rotating activities, they may add diversity to the workouts. For example, if one chooses to bike for a long outdoor ride one day and then go to the gym the next day to lift weights.
ACE recommends that to speed up weight loss, we can combine two exercises into one cross-training session. For example, one can ride a bike for 20 to 30 minutes, then try another activity for an additional 20 minutes.
Getting a full body checkup periodically
Biking (along with any aerobic exercise program) can result in a greater degree of health benefits if combined with a regular preventive health check program. People tend to underestimate the importance of regular body checkups and get medical assistance or a comprehensive checkup only when they start experiencing symptoms.
Joining a preventive healthcare program is an important aspect of proactive health and lifestyle management.
What are the different types of biking options?
One can opt to bike indoors or outdoors depending on which option is best tailored to needs and preferences.
If the individual prefers to bike indoors, they can:
- Ride a stationary bike on own or use one at a gym
- Try spin classes to keep riding through the work-out
- If the person is not able to use a regular stationary bike, a handcycle, powered by arms instead of legs, can give calorie-burning aerobic exercise.
- If he doesn’t own an equipment, he can join a gym or community center.
If the individual prefers to bike in the great outdoors, they can try road biking, trail biking, or mountain biking. They could even try biking to work or using bike to run errands. However, it is important to integrate this as a regular part of exercise routine if they want to use biking to lose weight. The individual can also use fitness tracking apps to monitor the progress towards goals. However, the only drawback of outdoor biking is that safety precautions come into play concerning road, traffic and weather conditions.
Biking for Weight Loss: Key Takeaways?
If a person is trying to lose weight or want to avoid regaining the weight the person has worked so hard to lose, biking can help get there. Increase the intensity or duration of the biking session to maximize weight reduction and fat burn. Weight loss and fat-burning efforts can also be aided by interval training and cross-training. If the person has a pre-existing medical condition or haven’t exercised in a long time, one should consult a physician to ensure that cycling is safe.