Try a Sport - Cycling for Weight Loss
by WLR Staff, Adam Vaughan
If you want to lose weight by cycling, you will find pedal power great fun.
It's challenging, sociable and offers a great workout. Suitable for everyone, any age or level of fitness, cycling helps weight loss as it burns calories, improves health and gets you out and about.
More and more cycle paths are being opened and biking to lose weight is becoming a more comfortable and enjoyable option. What a great way to get out in the fresh air and help your weight loss goals!
- You will lose fat and burn calories by increasing heart rate, helping to achieve your weight loss goals
- Cheap and pollution free, cycling burns calories, and you’ll lose weight.
- Cycling improves health.
- All round fitness, along with strength and endurance are increased as cycling exercises the major muscle groups in the legs: the quadriceps, glutei, hamstrings and calves.
- Pedal power is low impact and takes the weight of the body, so for many people who cannot do high impact sports because of the pressure it puts on their joints, such as running, cycling is a great alternative.
- You need no special training! If a sport is complicated, you may not take it up. Most of us can already ride a bike - and as the saying goes, once learnt you never forget!
Go it alone or make cycling a sociable event, whatever you do your bike will get you out and about and you'll enjoy it!
Depending on your weight and exertion level cycling will help you lose weight by burning off between 75-670 extra calories in a half-hour session.
- When cycling for health, exercise can be maintained for a long period of time without your leg muscles getting too tired, although you may feel the burn! Your heart and lungs get a solid workout which is excellent for improving your cardiovascular fitness levels.
- As your heart and lungs get stronger you will be able to more efficiently transport oxygen around the body which is the key to a high level of fitness. Your resting pulse rate will decrease as will your blood fat levels and blood pressure. All of these combined will reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Cycling for 30 minutes just 2-3 times a week will help with all other aerobic exercises too and reduce the chances of you having to stop your activity to get your breath back, and again improve your weight loss.
Before you know it a 10 mile bike ride will be a great hour out of the house rather than a chore to lose weight.
An interesting statistic… If one third of all short car journeys were made by bike, national heart disease rates would fall by between 5 and 10 percent (Bikes not Fumes, CTC, 1992). Info from BikeBiz.
Anyone can ride a bike; once learned, never forgotten. There are hundreds of different cycles to choose from – mountain bikes, road racing bikes, touring bikes and hybrid bikes. Ask a dealer's advice on what is best for you.
Once you have your bike start off slowly and build up. Keep off roads until you build up your confidence. Try out short journeys initially such as taking rides around your local block. Also where possible, stick to flat roads and paths until you have built up to a certain level.
Your weight loss journey will be more enjoyable if you start off gently.
You can then increase the distance and speed and try cycling to places you would normally go to by car or bus. Within a month riding a few miles will no longer be a problem and you could even consider cycling to work if it’s a suitable distance.
Once you feel that your cycling has improved enough why not take on a challenge and complete one of the many cycling events that go on throughout the country. Setting yourself a challenging goal will help to give you the motivation needed to train regularly and stick at it when the going gets tough.
Mountain bike, road bike, or track bike - you can go for a top of the range machine or a standard, easy to ride model from £100. Look around for second-hand shops; you can pick up some bargains. Or look in the garage, a little work and that bike will be roadworthy!
Biking is a great way to view your local scenery. Unlike a jog or walk you can travel a much greater distance in a shorter time and take in more of the world around you. Try varying your cycling routes as much as possible as this helps to keep pedal power fun and interesting, preventing boredom and a lack of motivation, the biggest obstacles when losing weight.
Due to the nature of the activity, cycling burns calories and is unlikely to build large quantities of muscle. Instead it is much more likely that your thighs, bum and waist will all slim down and tone up, making cycling a great exercise for those wanting to help their weight loss.
As you progress and start to bike longer distances your body core, abdominals and back will get stronger and firmer and leg strength will also greatly increase.
Bicycles are very much an understated form of transport, especially with the increase in congestion on today’s roads as well as the soaring fuel prices.
Riding your bike to work requires no petrol, insurance, MOT or Vehicle Excise Duty, as well as free parking! It also gives out zero emissions so it’s beneficial for the environment too.
Most people who drive to work by car travel five miles or less, a distance easily achievable after some cycling training. So you can improve health, fitness and burn off calories everyday without having to allocate time for a gym session or workout.
This is something that the city of London in particular is really working towards. In July 2010 the first two cycling ‘Superhighways’ opened, with plans for more already underway.
Many smaller cities also have a good cycle route system running through them so check your local authorities’ website to see where they have been established.
- Make sure your bike is maintained regularly.
- Carry a basic toolkit and a spare inner tube.
- Follow the Highway Code.
- Wear bright, visible clothing and don't forget lights in poor conditions.
- Wear an approved safety helmet, off road as well as on road.
Don't be shy! WLR members have proved themselves to be helpful, supportive and friendly. Join other keen cyclists on the forums to share news, tips, advice and support of the world of cycling...
Here’s what our members say…
Cycling has changed my shape
I am new to this cycling, and been doing it about 3 weeks now and cannot believe how much my shape has changed. Although I have not lost a lot of weight on the scales I have lost inches off my bottom, legs, stomach and torso!
I have had lots of comments at work
It is an activity which both me and my husband are doing together, I love it
I wish I had took it up years ago
Does cycling really help with weight loss?
I lost four stone in four years, very gradually. This was mainly due to me starting cycling and building up bit by bit until I was doing regular long commute by bike to work! I did reach a plateau and had to seriously look at my diet before getting to goal, but I believe the cycling (or any form of exercise) is the key! I maintained succesfully for a year until for one reason or another I had to reduce, almost stop cycling. From the point I was less active the weight has crept back on. I truly believe that my cycling coupled with a sensible approach to healthy eating will get me back to goal again. Hence my username!
WE can do it Em!
Lovely Long Ride
Today did a lovely long ride of 49.2K (which is about 42 miles). That is actually the distance of a marathon. Was very impressed with it. And in this weather I could have gone on and on and on. And burned a whopping 1500 calories!! What a fab fab day!!
"I bought my first bike before I started on WLR and for the first year I used that as the way of gaining exercise calories. I’d push harder every time I went out, aiming to burn as many calories as possible, and gained fitness, getting faster and enjoying it more and more each week.
The love of cycling has progressed to a major hobby. I now cycle around 100-150 miles per week, including a 60 mile club ride with my bike club at the weekend. I’ve also been competing in the Stirling Bike Club time trial series, and have even started writing a blog to help inspire others"
"Cycling is fantastic. I got on a bike at 19 stone plus – felt awful, looked awful and went about 2 miles before thinking I was going to die.
Last week, at about 12stone 10lbs, I did 60 miles on the Saturday morning, 55 miles on Sunday and then 10 miles at 25mph on the Monday! Who’d have thought it possible.”
“During the winter of 08/09 I was becoming concerned that my weight loss efforts never seemed to involve exercise. I was also becoming frustrated that I would waste my weekends in front of the TV. I decided that buying a bike would be the way to kill two birds with one stone losing weight through exercise and getting out and exploring and enjoying the countryside at the same time”.
See how cycling and other exercise can help you to lose weight with Weight Loss Resources' tools. You can keep online exercise and food diaries, see how many calories you burn and how many you consume. Try it free for 24 hours.
Why Cycle? - Offers practical advice on bike sizes, comfort and safety
Commuting Cyclists - CTC offers a comprehensive and specialised service for the leisure & commuting cyclist.
The British Cycle Federation - The governing body of cycle sports in the UK. This site offers a comprehensive guide to clubs, affiliated to the BCF, across Britain.
National Cycle Network - A safe, attractive, high-quality network for cyclists. Visit the website for details of how and where to join the network in your area. There are maps for most of the routes available from their online shop.
Recommended Cycling Guides