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Cycling For Weight Loss: Expert Tips And Important Do's And Don'ts

| Reviewed By Susan Jennifer

The benefits of cycling are not limited to your health but extend to the environment as well, as it is a zero-pollution mode of transportation. One more benefit or a good side of bicycles is that it promotes inclusivity as it is not very costly and can be afforded by both rich and poor people of the society.

Cycling For Weight Loss: Is It Effective?

Bodily, the health benefits of regular cycling include an increase in cardiovascular fitness, a decrease in body fat levels, a decrease in stress levels, prevention or management of diseases, among others. Cycling is a non-weight bearing exercise and hence is helpful for people to exercise who have knee pain/arthritis issues.

Regular cycling has been proven to help with weight loss. Let's take a look.

Cycling has been shown to help you burn fat and calories and lose weight [1]. However, simply cycling is not going to help; there are a few things you need to know for an effective cycling workout.

Cycling is a cardio workout in which one usually begins to burn fat only after the first 20 minutes. So, make sure that you do cycling for at least 30 minutes.

Cycling can aid with your weight loss journey if you make some small changes to the 'regular' way of cycling. No, we are not saying that you have to carry dumbbells while cycling. Here are some helpful tips and some dos and don'ts to make cycling a bit more effective in your weight loss journey.

  • If you are a beginner, begin with cycling for no more than 20 or 30 minutes and gradually increase your speed.
  • Start with a flat surface and then gradually take up steep or hilly routes.
  • Do some stretching before and after cycling, as this can help reduce the risk of back strain or muscle injuries.
  • Do some weight training before cycling; if you spend 15-30 minutes on weight training, you can also reduce the duration of cycling to 45 or 30 minutes [2].
  • Aim for a rate of weight loss of up to 500 gms per week [3].
  • Ride at a pace that gives you a heart rate of approximately between 68 and 79 per cent of your max heart rate. This is something you can set up using a heart rate monitor [4].
  • Ride bike every morning before having breakfast. Riding a bike on an empty stomach helps to burn fat 20 per cent faster and effectively, says studies [5].
  • Once you make cycling a habit, you can increase the distance of your ride. Longer rides are good to lose belly fat.
  • Sleep is important. Studies have shown that people who get six to eight hours of sleep are much more successful at losing weight and keeping it off [6].
  • Try cycling to work than taking the bus or a cab.
  • Keep yourself motivated and monitor your progress by recording it as you go.
  • Eat small amounts of good food every three to four hours to maintain a stable metabolism and burn fat consistently along with cycling.
  • Most importantly - Avoid overtraining or undereating.
  • Avoid sugar and processed food.
  • Eat more lean protein and plenty of fruit and vegetables. Choose lean protein such as fish, chicken, beans and pulses [7].

Experts have pointed out that when you are cycling for weight loss, on average, one must do cycling for around 20 to 30 km. However, instead of focusing on the distance, one must focus on the duration of cycling - which should be for one hour or more.

You can do interval training to improve calorie burn and also speed, you can try cycling at a faster pace for one minute and then at a slower pace for the next minute.

If you are an indoor person, you can still try cycling through stationary bikes. If you have one at home, that's great; however, your gym will definitely have one if not.

Safety Is Important!

While biking outdoors, it is important that you keep safety a priority.

  • Wear a helmet
  • Adjust the height of the seat
  • Ride on the right side of the road
  • Use hand signals
  • Keep an eye out for road hazards

On A Final Note...

The health benefits mentioned in this article are for regular cycling. In the event of a pandemic, it is best you take the necessary precautions while stepping out for cycling. If lockdowns have been imposed in your locality, stay home.

Susan JenniferPhysiotherapist
Masters in Physiotherapy
Susan Jennifer