Bike to work to Lose Weight and Get Fit
Cycling to work offers a wide range of health benefits including:
- Excellent calorie burn, an estimated 700-800 calories per hour when you’re commuting!
- Superior cardiovascular conditioning. Cycling to work builds stamina and increases endurance while lower resting heart rate. Generally individuals who cycle regularly have a resting heart rate in the mid to low 60s.
- Lower body toning. Taking your bike to work is especially good for building leg muscles, and the slimming effect can be almost magical.
Many people prefer to cycle to work (rather than using an exercise bike indoors) because there’s really nothing to replace the freedom and adventure to be had exploring under your own foot power.
- A comfortable saddle appropriate to the rider’s gender.
- A rack to carry a water bottle. (Drinking water is recommended every 20 minutes during a lengthy ride.)
- A ride computer that registers speed and distance traveled.
- Gears to assist with handling terrain (unless you’re hardcore and ride a fixie or singlespeed!)
- Appropriate illumination via reflectors and/or lights.
These items represent the bare minimum for safe and effective operation. A ride computer (or GPS) is especially important as cycling is, generally speaking, an exercise in which the rider competes against himself for better speed and longer distances traveled.
Using a Heart Monitor
Where weight loss is the goal, it is also recommended that the cyclist use a heart monitor which includes a chest strap and a wrist unit that measures duration of exercise, time in ‘the zone’ (your target heart rate to accomplish fat burning), average and maximum heart rate, and calories burned. One pound equals 3500 calories. If you manage a 500 calorie deficit (burn or expend more than you consume) you’ll lose approximately one pound per week.
For individuals who do not like to be out in the elements (or are maybe training themselves to bike to work), an exercise bike can be a comfortable way to cycle daily in the comfort of your own home. Many riders watch television while they pedal and cycling DVDs are available to create the illusion that you are traveling through the hills of the California wine country or perhaps the French countryside. Recumbent exercise bikes with their bucket seats are especially comfortable. For some riders, the different angle at which the recumbent bike places the body is even more effective for body slimming and overall the position is easier for the back and the backside.
Spinning Bikes for Indoor Cycling
Spinning bikes (found at most gyms) are a special class of exercise bikes that have weighted flywheels to simulate, as closely as is possible, the feel of riding a road bike indoors. Generally, spinning is done at a gym in a class environment or, if done at home, to directions from a DVD. The workout involves ‘intervals’ of intense riding where the cyclist is standing in the pedals and working at maximum output balanced by seated periods of a lesser cadence. Spinning is hardcore exercise with maximum calorie burn. If you have not been working out, it’s best to get moderately in shape and to check with your physician before beginning a spinning program.
When to Cycle?
Almost any time of day is appropriate for cycling, although if you’re cycling to work this will influence when you cycle. If you’re cycling entirely for leisure choices can be made about when you go out on your bike. Depending on the climate in your area, it may be best to ride in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler. Some fitness experts recommend riding first thing in the morning before eating to stimulate the metabolism, while others suggest ‘fueling up’ first. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid cycling just before bedtime as the stimulation will contribute to your insomnia. Regardless of when or where you choose to cycle, keep track of the numbers so you can monitor your improvement and work out at a pace and duration that will show effective results.
Benefits of Cycling
As an aerobic, fat burning exercise, cycling offers multiple health benefits. Upright exercise bikes can be purchase for as little as £100 (or nothing if you check freecycle) while a recumbent will run from £200 to £600. These devices allow you to exercise regardless of the weather while road bikes get you out and about exploring and having fun while you get in shape. Spinning bikes can cost as much as £1500, so that’s an activity that will most likely send you to the gym. Regardless of the type of cycling you choose, youíll begin to see results in a month or less, putting you well on the road to those lovely words – long and lean.
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