It’s almost the weekend! Friday!
So, my Friday Fitness (I’ve named it!) series so far has covered exercise disciplines that involve more stretching and are typically performed inside. There are more of those coming but I’m going to switch gears today.
Today, we’ll discuss cycling.
There is a reason for the shift—actually, a rather personal one. This weekend, my husband is participating in the MS150 from Houston to Austin. It’s a 2-day fundraising bike ride of 150 miles organized by the National MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Society. It’s his 10th year participating!
I admire his commitment to this cause. He started the race because he has several relatives and friends who have MS. This has been an important event around our house for years. If you want to donate to his ride, click here .
So, back to cycling: it’s possible to lose weight on a cycling regimen. Cycling may be easier on your body than some other forms of exercise, so it may be a better option if you have knee or back problems.
Here’s some important details about cycling if you’re considering it as a form of exercise.
Types of Bikes
If you are new to bikes, you may not know that there are more than just regular bikes and mountain bikes. There are several different types of bikes on the market, and all have their own purposes. Here are the different bikes along with what you need to know about each one of them.
A mountain bike is the bike that we typically hear about or that you see at a local store. True mountain bikes are for riding rougher biking trails. For example, if you ride bike trails that run the natural course of a state park or mountain rugged area, then a mountain bike is likely what you are looking for. They are made for being jolted around and hitting rougher rocky areas.
A hybrid bike is something that many people have not heard of. The basic idea behind a hybrid bike is they are a mix of a road bike and a mountain bike. They can handle most terrains and are an ideal option for someone that rides both types of terrains and doesn’t want to buy separate bikes. Keep in mind, if you’re looking for a lightweight option, this may not be it compared to typical road bikes.
A road bike is ideal for the city cyclist. If you plan on handling on traditional road tracks, paved riding trails, and similar surfaces. Road bikes are generally light and can be easily carried into an office garage or upstairs to store in your apartment or home. Keep in mind, this type of bike doesn’t handle heavy loads well.
A cruiser bike looks more like what people think of when they think of a traditional bike. These bikes are for casual riding and not for events and speed riding. They are made for paved roads and are the casual or light version to the road bike.
A touring bike is part of the road bike family. They are lightweight and designed for paved road riding. The difference between a road bike and a touring bike is that the touring bike is used for events and long-distance biking.
Though there are other styles and personalizations to bikes that you can consider, these are the main options you will run into. Make sure to do your research as well as consider what you want from your cycle enthusiasm now and later down the road. Consider events, environment, and your own riding style as well.
What Are the Health Benefits of Cycling?
Cycling can strengthen muscles and improve your endurance which is pretty well-known. However, there are some other lesser known health benefits as well.
You can do all the cardio you want in the gym, but at the end of the day, one of the best cardio workouts is biking. A study last year found that people who cycled to work had a lower risk of heart disease. You can use your bike riding schedule to set goals to strengthen your heart health.
If you are sedentary all day, you may develop joint stiffness which biking may help. Your joint mobility may improve after riding on a routine basis. Your body, when well hydrated, may lubricate your joints more; this decreases joint inflammation, pain, and swelling. However, the cycling schedule must be routine to gain this benefit. It’ll take time, but you’ll start noticing the difference. Because of these reasons, biking may be an exercise that you want to incorporate in your routine on an ongoing basis.
Another of the health benefits of biking that many people don’t consider is the stress release of riding. Cycling gets your blood moving, your heart pumping, and works out the stress that builds up in your muscles and joints. That means that you start to release stress physically throughout the body. Eventually, this physical release will become an emotional one. As you ride more often, you’ll find that you’re calmer, your breathing pattern is steadier, and that you’re more relaxed for the rest of your day.
By keeping these benefits in mind, you can focus on specific aspects of your health you want to work on. This will help you make more realistic goals for yourself and plan out training plans for upcoming biking events in a more specific and personalized way.
Weight Loss and Cycling
Riding your bike without a plan is not likely to result in weight loss. Here are some steps to lose weight with your biking regimen.
Make a Routine
Having a routine to your biking is key. You can’t expect to get results just riding one day a week. The trick to that is, you also can’t expect to see weight loss if you are only riding ten minutes one day and an hour another. Make sure you are planning out the days you ride, the time you ride, and the days you take off. After you make your plan, follow through. It won’t help to just write it down.
Resistance when you ride increases your calorie burn. It also increases your metabolism, so you can drop weight. There are several main types of resistance, air (pushing through the air and wind), rolling (changes in the tires as they roll on the ground), gravitational (from gravity), and mechanical (from the metal parts of the bike rubbing together). There are things that professional cyclists can purchase to increase resistance as they train, but for an amateur cyclist, some ways to alter resistance are including hills in your rides or doing interval training.
Mix It Up
If you’re using biking trails for your primary routine, mix it up a bit. Try different trails as well as some base training—which is when you spend a significant amount of time riding at low intensity to build up your endurance base (these types of rides are important to get you on the right track). You can even choose to mix your routine up weekly by changing your trail daily or switching your trails weekly.
These are the basic steps to help you start seeing weight loss. However, riding a bike—if you want to be effective at it—requires more than just jumping on a bike and riding. Tomorrow’s article will look at some considerations for beginning cyclists.
There is also a freebie for cyclists “10 Fitness Tips for Cyclists“. Click the link to get your copy.
Remember, you should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness routine.
Loving Life—The Reboot!