You probably remember cycling as a part of your childhood. Reading this, you are reminding yourself of the times when your bike was your best friend. Nowadays, you see people using their bikes to cycle not only as a casual activity, but also as a mode of transport, and yes, as a way to maintain and even reduce their weight.
In today’s article, we will go on to explore the possibility of using cycling as a part of your daily life for the purposes of achieving a healthy and effective weight loss. We will share some of the best health benefits of cycling only to get in a deep discussion about how exactly does cycling help you shred those extra body pounds. And of course, we have your back and will be sharing some tips that you can use while cycling to lose weight.
Health benefits of cycling
Not only is cycling a fun activity do to, but it is also an incredibly healthy one, bringing multiple health benefits in your everyday life. In the following, we will discuss some of the greatest health benefits that cycling is offering you.
- It boosts your mood
Cycling can easily make you forget about things such as anxiety, depression, and stress. This is mainly because of the release of endorphins that happens with regular physical activity, but cycling works on a deeper level as well in order to maintain your good mental health.
While cycling, you are required to pay attention to the road, maintaining balance, staying focus, and being present in the moment. By doing so, cycling can help boost your cognitive functions but also help you develop awareness, and it is a great way to practice mindfulness, which has more mental health benefits than you can count (1).
- It improves your balance and coordination
There is a reason why cycling is thought to be one of the best physical activities for the elderly. As we mentioned earlier, while cycling, you are making an effort to maintain balance and coordination, thus improving these two very important things.
Improved balance and coordination can mean only one thing – lower risk of injuries and fractures whose risk is especially high within the elderly (2). It is the older women that are encouraged to pursue cycling as a part of their daily routine since they are exposed to the high risk of osteoporosis and the common injuries and fractures that come with it (3).
- It strengthens your cardiovascular system
Cycling is one of the best physical activity that promotes good cardiovascular health. By cycling regularly, you are significantly lowering the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, while improving your heart, lungs, and blood flow (4).
This physical activity allows you to strengthen your heart muscle, lowering the resting pulse, reducing the high cholesterol and triglycerides levels, among other beneficial effects. Cycling is highly recommended to anyone who is struggling with a family or a medical history that involves heart disease and heart attack to help prevent it from happening ever again.
- It helps prevent and manage existing health issues
Whether you want to improve your health and prevent any health issues, such as heart disease and heart attack, or you want to manage an already existing health issue such as osteoporosis or high blood pressure, cycling is the key activity for you. Cycling allows you to avoid a sedentary lifestyle, which is found to be one of the greatest risk factors for most health issues that we commonly encounter today.
Many other health benefits are expected to come with regular cycling as well. From stronger bones, increased flexibility, improved joint mobility, to a better posture, the benefits are endless. This is exactly why we encourage you to pursue cycling as a regular part of your everyday activity as you see fit.
Can you lose weight by cycling?
So now that we have established that cycling is one of the best physical activities for men and women of any age, let’s explore the question that has brought us here in the first place, shall we? It seems that more and more people are wondering whether or not cycling will help them to get closer to their dream body, which is why we are here.
If you want to lose weight and get lean muscles, cycling daily is a great way to start, so yes – cycling will help you lose weight. What you eat and how you adapt to the whole, healthy lifestyle matters as well. But we will talk more about that in a couple of minutes. For now, let’s focus on how cycling will help you lose weight. It is worth noting that cycling helps you achieve the three main areas that allow a healthy weight loss to happen.
- It helps lower the body fat levels
When you are trying to lose weight, what you are focusing on is reducing the amount of body fat and instead of building healthy, strong muscles. If you want to burn body fat in an effective and sustainable way, then you need to choose an activity that will target the major muscle groups in your body. A perfect example of such physical activity is cycling.
Cycling, especially at a high intensity, will help you burn more body fats than ever. It is a great non-weight bearing exercise, suitable for beginners to athletes who all want one of two things – either lose weight or maintain their weight because cycling is a great way to maintain your current body weight as well. A 2018 study compared the effects of walking and cycling for the purpose of weight loss. And although the weight loss effects of walking cannot be denied, the study also demonstrated how amazing weight loss results could be achieved with the help of cycling. Cycling more than 1.5/a week has effectively reduced the percentage of body fat, waist circumference, and induced weight loss (5). So if you are tired of looking at your fat showing, then get to cycling, and you will see a noticeable difference within a few weeks.
- It boosts your metabolism
When you are trying to lose weight, one of the main things that you focus on is your calorie intake. You need to burn more calories than you intake, and you do that by adapting to a calorie deficit while including a physical activity in your daily life that will help you burn more calories as well. So why not double your chances of losing weight and burning more calories than ever by choosing a physical activity that is promising to boost your metabolism in the process as well.
A faster metabolism is equal to more calories being burned, and that is just the effects that we are looking for. Luckily for you, you can engage in a fun activity such as cycling that will boost your metabolism. Plus, cycling helps burn a lot of calories. Did you know that only 30 minutes of cycling on a stationary bike at a moderate pace helps you burn around 260 calories? And riding a bicycle outdoors at a moderate pace for 30 minutes will help you burn as much as 298 calories! We bet that you will be cleaning your old bicycle by the end of this article, knowing all of this (6).
- It helps you build strong, lean muscles
Often, getting rid of those extra body pounds is simply not enough, and we want to see as our body is changing and improving even further and further. The next step is the muscle build-up, of course, that will allow you to get strong, lean muscles whenever you see yourself in the mirror. And although weight training is the fastest way to get those muscles, sometimes even a non-weight bearing exercise such as cycling can be much useful.
There is no denying the fact that cycling helps improve the overall function of your lower body, focusing on strengthening your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves without putting too much stress on them (7). To make your legs even stronger, we would recommend trying weight-bearing exercises such as squats, leg presses, and lunges, but cycling is a great way to start working on those strong legs of yours for sure.
But your leg muscles are not the only ones that will benefit from riding that bike. Maintaining your body upright while riding your bike requires a certain amount of core strength as well. This means that you will be working on strengthening your back and abdominals at the same time, thus burning that belly fat that you are so tired of looking at day after day (8). Plus, the stronger your muscles get, the more calories you burn, so you have a win-win situation while cycling each day.
4 Tips on how to lose weight by cycling
As we mentioned earlier, if you want to lose weight, cycling alone is not enough to get the results that you are hoping for. There are ways that will bring you closer to an effective and sustainable weight loss process, and those are the ways that you need to be looking for. Now let’s see what is supposed to help you to get that beach body of yours.
- Eat regularly
Losing weight is in no way linked with starving yourself. If a diet plan is telling you that you need to avoid a meal or eat ridiculously small meals, then you should avoid it. Instead, you need to eat regularly, meaning three main meals and at least one to two snacks per day.
We mentioned cycling as an activity that burns a lot of calories, and major muscle groups being involved. This means that you need enough to allow them to recover properly. But you certainly do have to watch what and how much you are eating. A calorie deficit is a must (9). Simply calculate your daily calorie intake by using an online calorie calculator and reduce that number by 300-400 calories, and there you have it – a recommended calorie deficit that will help you lose weight without having to starve yourself (10).
- Sleep in
Allow your muscles and the whole body to recover at the end of the day by getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation might as well be the thing that is causing you to put on more and more weight, instead of losing it (11). In addition, staying up late is more commonly linked to late-night snacking, especially snacking on unhealthy foods, which will definitely ruin your weight loss results.
- Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated throughout the day is very important. But did you also know that by drinking more water, you will be able to stay away from overeating (12)? And now that you are regularly cycling, you need water more than ever to replace all of the liquids that you have lost through sweating.
Do watch out though – do not mistake a sugary energy drink to get you properly hydrated. Instead, rely on your water bottle that you will carry around with you and an electrolyte drink that you can also sip on occasionally. An electrolyte drink contains all of the things that you need except for the harmful carbs (13).
- Eat breakfast before you bike
Do not make the mistake of skipping breakfast and cycling on an empty stomach. A well-balanced, protein-rich breakfast will give your body the fuel that it needs for the cycling session that awaits. It can also boost the fat burning process and improve your metabolism as well (14).
Just make sure to include enough protein such as eggs, soy, seeds and nuts, milk, Greek yogurt, and cheese, on the side of enough low-carb, low-calorie fruits and veggies, and there you have it – the definition meal for the perfect weight loss results (15).
Weight loss is not hard if you are using the right methods. And one of the best weight loss methods is regular cycling. This fun and effective activity will allow you not only to reduce your waist circumference but also burn more calories than ever and build strong, lean muscles that you will be proud of. So go ahead – sign up for a spin class or make your old bike your new best commute friend that will take you to work and everywhere where you will be going from now on.