Cycling & Health

Why Cycling is Your Best Bet to Lose That Extra Weight

  • Ninety One
    Team 91
  • 6-minute read
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Did you know about 45% of the world's population is trying to lose weight at any given time? And that the weight loss and weight management industry in 2019 was valued at 192.2 billion USS and is projected to reach USD 295.3 billion by 2027?

Looking at these statistics, you can deduce two things One, the weight loss mechanism solutions touted by the weight loss and management industry do not seem to have a high success rate. And, two, losing weight is not an easy thing to achieve.

Most of us may have our weight loss struggles or have seen it up close and personal with our family and friends. And more than often, even post the battle to lose weight, the lost weight boomerangs like it was always there.

Being overweight is established as a factor in increasing the risk of various diseases like cardiovascular, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Additionally, research has indicated that an overweight person is more likely to suffer from mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Scientifically, being overweight and obese is related to multiple factors like genetics, unhealthy diets, not enough physical movement, and sleep. Environmental factors like opportunities to work out, easy access to junk food, etc., can contribute to an individual being overweight. A large percentage of the contributors to being overweight are non-controllable.

A controlled and calorie-restricted diet has a big part to play when one is trying to lose weight. Exercising or being physically active has a considerable effect on the journey of losing weight. Now we know that is easier said than done, else the weight-loss industry wouldn't be thriving like it is.

We recommend cycling as your fitness regime and means to lose weight.

Cycling is a perfect combination of cardio and strength and great for weight loss and helps in building muscles. More muscle mass translates into a higher resting metabolic rate and more calories burned throughout the day.

Follow our tips on exactly how you can achieve weight loss through cycling, and read through why this activity has a high chance of making your weight loss journey successful.

Seven ways you can effectively use cycling to lose weight

1. Increase your pedaling intensity

While leisure cycling is enjoyable and will lead to losing weight by burning calories at about 150 calories for a 30-minute ride, you can double that with high-intensity cycling. After all, the thumb rule is the faster you ride; you'll burn more calories. That's because your body uses more energy to cycle at greater speeds. And the more calories you burn, the more weight you'll likely shed.

One way to track your pedaling intensity is by ensuring you increase your heart rate is to at least 70 - 75% for most of your rides. Use the comfort of a fitness tracker that includes a heart rate monitor. A chest monitoring strap though more accurate, may not be as convenient and comfortable.

2. Use HIIT or hi-intensity interval training

HIIT is about intense exercise or activity in short bursts and then intervals of low-intensity training or exercise. When you do a HIIT workout while cycling, it will look something like this.

i) Cycle as fast as you can or with high resistance for about 30-60 seconds

ii) Follow it up with leisure cycling for the next 2-3 minutes.

iii) Repeat this pattern for the next 20 to 30 minutes.

By doing the cycling-HIIT method expect to burn more calories in less time, improve your cardio fitness, and help you lose fat.

3. Take longer rides or use the cycle more each day

You can choose to cycle more for weight reduction and to add to the calories burned. Use the bicycle when doing neighbourhood errands. Or even to commute or be the first or last mile of work travel. Every bit counts when you are looking to lose weight. It is recommended that you bicycle for an hour daily since fat burning occurs after 20 minutes after starting a physical workout. So if you are looking to burn 2500 calories per week which is a good target, ensure you get your moderately intense cycling at least five times a week for an hour each time.

4. Ride Uphill

Do not shy away from uphill riding; it's another opportunity to burn more calories. Working against an opposing force builds muscle, so you need to add resistance to increase your strength capacity.

5. Do cycling Challenges through Cycling Apps

When you challenge yourself and enter challenges with other cycling enthusiasts, you are more likely to pedal more than you normally would. You can use apps like Wynd and Strava, which record your rides and encourage cycling by having competitions amongst its users.

6. Try Fasted Training

Fasted training is a popular method used by many fitness enthusiasts. It is a strategic training method where carbohydrate fuelling is completed after training rather than before to enhance adaptation and performance.

Use this routine to kickstart your weight loss journey. Do your cycling activity first thing in the morning and without having your breakfast. When you do this, your body is forced to use its stores of fat since there is no food in your system. A few things to keep in mind when you choose to do fasted training:

1) While you have to avoid eating, you must stay dehydrated and consume either water or a low-calorie electrolyte drink

2) Your cycling session should preferably be shorter, say for 30 minutes to a maximum of an hour.

3) If you must eat, it would be preferable to have protein only, no carbs

4)The intensity of cycling should be moderate and not high intensity.

5) This training is not recommended for daily cycling but the one-off, weekly session.

7. Cycle with Others

Look at including a bit of group cycling in your schedule, especially on the weekends. Instead of taking time off from exercising during Saturdays and Sundays, join a cycling group. The benefit would be additional exercise time, and you will push yourself further and ride harder. Additionally, you are unlikely to quit or opt-out with excuses last minute when you planned a ride with a group

Six reasons to stick to cycling

1) Cycling burns approximately more calories than most other activities

When you cycle, expect to burn about 298 calories for 30 minutes, on average. It could be more or less depending on multiple factors. Calories burned are more than other activities in comparison. Check this list.

Activity Average calories burned for 30 minutes

a) Weight lifting -108

b) Yoga/ Stretching -144

c) Playing Volleyball - 108

d) Walking - 133

e) Hiking - 216

The more calories you burn encourages you to continue and reach your weight-loss goal faster.

2) It's a fun way of exercising

Cycling is a fun activity. There are no boring, repetitive gym sets. It does not feel cumbersome and overstretched but instead seems like you are doing an enjoyable activity, and just the side effect is burning calories. It's enjoyable, especially since it's outdoors and by itself, the greenery is distracting and a stress buster.

3) It is a low investment and does not include repetitive costs

Unlike gym membership, you do not have high recurring costs in regular gym fees. Once you have purchased your bicycle, you can choose to cycle anywhere at no additional price. Most other sporting activities require either a club membership or arranging a time with your playing buddies.

4) You will gain from all-round fitness

Bicycling is an all-round fitness activity. Strength and endurance increase, and it exercises the major muscles like the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves in your legs.

5) The best low-impact aerobic activity

There's no danger of injuring yourself like most other sports. Knee issues plague runners, and other injuries are common with other sports. Pedaling a bicycle is low impact and best for people who cannot do high impact sports because of its pressure on their joints.

6) Anyone can cycle

That's true, there are no age or fitness level barriers, and 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 learned, you never forget!

Whether you choose to cycle alone or pedal as part of a group, it doesn't matter. Just move those pedals and enjoy the rides. And, don't worry too much about kilos and pounds. Remember the goal and keep riding.

Do you have a weight loss story that you'd like to share with us? Please write to us in the comments section below.

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