Cycling for Weight Loss: Does It Work?
Forget the treadmill or the aerobics classes. More people are now catching on to how cycling- whether it be the traditional way outdoors on the open road, or using a static bicycle in the gym for a cycling or “spinning” class- is one of the lesser known, yet highly effective exercise methods for losing weight. Taking up cycling is a fun and enjoyable form of movement that can also lead to many health benefits- including weight loss. By cycling every day, it is possible to tone the body, improve overall fitness and start to lose the excess kilograms in a steady and healthy way.
The way that cycling can kick-start your weight loss efforts is through a combination of factors. Firstly, it is a low-impact sport which strengthens your hip muscles, hamstrings, glutes and quads, and the stronger these large muscle are, the easier it is for your body to burn fat.
Second, cycling also requires doing short sprint workouts that are known to effectively increase levels of human growth hormone, which helps to boost lean muscle and burn fat. Finally, when cycling, you also do interval training (spurts of activity and rest) that increases your body’s metabolism, so you keep burning fat even when you aren’t cycling. It doesn’t get better than that!
Like all forms of safe weight loss, the results you achieve will depend on the amount of effort you put in. To lose 1kg a week (which is a safe and healthy weight loss speed), you will need to develop a cycling routine that is consistent (at least 3-4 times a week). You will also find that your weight may not change dramatically at first because your muscle mass will first increase from the strengthening of your muscles that happens though cycling. This will mean the numbers on the scale won’t change- even though your body shape will from becoming more toned.
The great thing about cycling is that it can be easily integrated into your current lifestyle. Start riding from place to place rather than taking your car. Or set up a stationary bike in your living room, and burn calories while watching your favourite TV show. The ease of being able to cycle in different situations also means you can have plenty of variety in your exercise routine, and many people soon find they become quite addicted to the cycling rush.
You will also need to combine cycling with a healthy diet to get the results you want to achieve. Cyclists benefit from having more protein in their diet to keep hunger at bay and to kick start their metabolism before a ride. Don’t skip meals when regularly cycling, and eat a protein rich meal combined with healthy “good” carbohydrates within thirty minutes of completing a ride. The powerful combination of a well-rounded diet with managed portion sizes, avoiding junk food and sugary snacks, drinking plenty of water, along with a regular cycling routine will see you reaching your weight loss goals before you know it!
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