With the weather cooling down as we transition from Summer to Fall, you may be feeling motivated to lose weight and start exercising.
Nonetheless, starting to exercise after a long break can be a bit intimidating. Searching for beginner friendly workouts, Cycling pops in your head and you wonder, “is Cycling a good exercise for losing weight?”.
Just like any exercise, Cycling is a great way to lose weight, especially if it’s been a while since your last workout. Cycling can provide a solid workout, while being easy on the joints for those with weight to lose. Plus, it’s so fun that you’ll forget you’re exercising! Keep reading to see if cycling works for you and your weight loss goals.
If you’re concerned about bikes being able to hold your weight, my article,” How much can you weigh and still ride a bike” should surely put your mind at ease.
There are many reasons why cycling is a good exercise for weight loss. You’ve probably seen success stories, like this article from Bicycling.com, where people lose hundreds of pounds from cycling. And believe it or not, it is definitely possible to lose a lot of weight by cycling.
But make sure you have a realistic understanding of what to expect and what it will take to reach your weight loss goals.
While cycling can be a great way to lose weight, it still has its limitations and requirements. To make sure you know what to expect, keep reading below and hopefully any questions you have will be answered.
Why cycling is a good exercise for weight loss
Let’s start with a few reasons why you may chose cycling for weight loss.
Other than the general benefits that come with any form of exercise – like increased mental well-being, improved cardiovascular health, and resilience to diseases, cycling has its own list of benefits. All the reasons below are why so many people chose cycling as a workout when they first start exercising.
One of the best things about biking for exercise, is that it feels more like fun than it does a chore.
Most of us have tried a workout regimen at one point in time. And we all know how hard it can be to stick to a certain routine. Whether you’re doing yoga in the living room, or driving 30+ minutes to your nearest gym, it can feel like a chore every time you prepare for your workout.
This is the problem most people experience when they first start exercising, and unfortunately, this is a big reason why most people quit working out shortly after they start.
That is why cycling is so effective in helping people lose weight. Unlike other workouts, biking is easy to do because it’s a fun and pleasant experience.
Cycling gets you outside, enjoying the beauty and nature of your surroundings. Take the opportunity to explore your town in a way you otherwise wouldn’t. Switch up your biking route to learn more about your locale. Explore a new park or trail every other weekend. Hop on your bike and go on an adventure, all the while forgetting that you are still getting good exercise.
Low impact Exercise
One of the challenges people with extra weight have, is finding a decent exercise that doesn’t cause pain or discomfort.
For anyone who isn’t used to exercise, it can take the body some time to adjust to the new stress you’re putting on it. This problem is exaggerated for anyone who is overweight. The bigger you are, the harder it will be to perform some of the simplest of exercises. This can make you feel extremely unmotivated to improve your health.
Furthering the challenges experienced by overweight people, is the limited range of exercising they can safely do. The safest exercises are often the same ones that take forever to show results, making the process even more unmotivating.
Biking is a low impact activity that is particularly easy on the joints. This makes it possible for people with extra weight to exercise safely.
You are able to spend weeks improving the strength in your knees, legs, and joints, all while improving your cardiovascular health. You will quickly notice how much more capable you feel on and off the bike, as your overall body quality improves.
Before you know it, you will be in good enough shape to feel confident doing other exercises. But nothing replaces being on the bike
Easy to challenge yourself
Stealing a bit from the point above, people who are overweight may find it hard to add variations to their workout, further lengthening the weight loss process.
Adding intervals to your workout is what will give your results an extra boost. They drastically improve your cardiovascular health and help push you closer to your goals. When you are unable to push yourself, you really limit the time you spend working out.
Since cycling is so low impact, most people can add these intervals in their workout. This opportunity you get to push yourself will pay off tremendously and at a much quicker pace.
It is easy to add intervals while cycling, sometimes its as simple as a brief change in pace.
You can always push yourself to complete a lap faster or to sprint for longer duration’s. As well, seasoned riders often build stamina and muscle by adding climbs to their route. There are many ways to push yourself, without putting your body in danger.
A great way to meet friends
Like I said before, it can be intimidating to start exercising after a long break.
One of the challenges we all face is the initial embarrassment of our current fitness level around our peers. I have found myself nervous more often than not when I think about starting a new gym. Nervousness can sometimes come off as stand-offish behavior, making it harder to socialize and make friends when starting a new hobby.
While this is nothing to really worry about, you may still be worried about making friends when you start exercising. Especially if you’re afraid you won’t keep up with your peers. This worry is definitely not the case when you start biking.
Biking attracts people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels. It is easy to make friends with other cyclists, as you all share the same hobby, Biking.
Even more, you will find that cyclists are always looking for fellow bikers to ride with. Regardless if you are working out, or just taking a leisurely stroll, you will enjoy the experience so much more with a friend.
You can do it indoors
One of the great things about cycling for weight loss, is the fact that it gets you outdoors and into some fresh air.
While outdoor exercise works great for walkers, runners and cyclists, things like bad weather and rain can interrupt your workout plans.
And what about those cold winter months where the roads and trails are slick with ice and snow? I wouldn’t recommend a beginner go biking in those types of conditions.
Luckily, just like running, there are ways to get your bike workout indoors. Similar to treadmills, cyclists have exercise bikes like the Schwinn 130 Upright from Amazon to make sure they don’t miss a workout. There are even trainer devices like the Conquer Pro trainer from Amazon to connect your own bike to. This convenience helps keep you motivated to stick with a workout plan, especially if issues arise.
The fact that you can still get your workout indoors, is another reason why cycling is good exercise for weight loss.
It’s easy to add to your schedule
Lastly, cycling is relatively easy to fit into your schedule.
As adults, we often find ourselves too busy to properly focus on self-care. This leads to issues like stress, bad sleep, and weight gain. When your weight issues are already attributed to your busy schedule and interruptions, it can be hard to fit an exercise regimen into the agenda.
Unfortunately, exercise needs to be consistent to see any real results and improvement. If you’re already having trouble finding time to add anything else to the schedule, exercise may not even seem worthwhile.
Luckily, cycling is relatively easy to add to any schedule. Not only are you able to hop out on your bike at any time, there are other ways to fit in a workout.
- Need to run a quick errand? Take the opportunity to get a short ride in on the bike
- Spending time with the kids? Take them for a bike ride at your local trail
- Some people even chose to bike to work!
While each situation varies from the next, it may be a lot easier to fit biking in the schedule than you think. This is one of the best reasons cycling is a good exercise for weight loss.
Cycling for exercise has its limits
That last section may already have you sold on cycling as exercise for weight loss. But as I said before, my goal for this article is to answer any questions and leave you with a realistic expectation of cycling to reach your weight loss goals.
Cycling is great exercise for just about anybody, regardless of size or weight. And while it may seem like the perfect exercise for everyone, it still has its limitations.
Since biking is a low impact exercise, you may not build muscle as fast as you would with exercises like lifting and running. Most people focus on cardio when losing weight, but the muscle built while working out plays a huge role in increasing your metabolism, helping you shed even more pounds.
For this reason, you may find that cycling stops serving your needs at some point. But if your main goal is to lose weight, biking is still one of the best choices for exercise.
Another issue you will encounter, is that cycling mainly focuses on cardio and your lower body. As mentioned before, biking may not fully service your needs if you are needing some upper body strength training.
Although this can seem like a deal breaker, cycling for weight loss is still the best option for most people. Since you are getting good cardio exercise, you will shed weight from all over your body. You will even tighten your core and upper body, as you balance the bike from the top.
How often should I cycle for weight loss?
Then the question arises, “how often should I cycle to lose weight?”
For beginners, it is recommended that you try to cycle 3 times per week. Just like any other exercise, you will only see improvement if you’re consistent with your workouts. But for anyone completely new to exercise, you will see the benefits from just biking 1 time per week.
While it’s usually safe to generalize an exercise schedule, everyone will have their own specific needs. At the end of the day, you know what’s best for your body, and you are aware of your own limits.
Since biking is relatively easy, the main challenge of cycling for weight loss, is maintaining a consistent riding schedule. Keep this in mind for the next 2 headings, as they will be dictated by how often you plan to bike.
How long should I bike for weight loss?
How long you should bike for weight loss, will depend on how often you plan on riding.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 21 minutes per day of moderate exercise, so you should shoot for at least 30 minutes of cycling to lose weight. As 30 minutes of riding becomes easier, slowly add a 1 hour ride to your weekly workout.
Cycling is pretty easy to maintain for extended periods of time; you will quickly improve your stamina with consistent riding. Just don’t over do it, and make sure you know your limits.
How fast do I cycle for weight loss?
Mentioned earlier in the article, I advised that alternating pace can help speed up weight loss, but how fast do you have to cycle to lose weight?
The truth is, there is no set speed to maintain to lose weight. As long as you’re consistent with how often and how long you ride, you will still lose weight. Weight loss is just accelerated when you add intervals and push yourself to go faster.
Shortly after you start riding, you will notice an improvement in how far you can go and how tired you feel after biking a certain distance. Otherwise, it is very intuitive to gradually increase your speed, as your overall fitness improves. You can record this by timing yourself.
Where should I bike for weight loss?
Depending on your fitness level, there are plenty of places you can bike, but where should you bike for weight loss?
If you are looking to lose weight, chances are, you need to be relatively easy on your joints for a while. Until you build fitness, it is recommended that you start biking on flat surfaces like Greenways and park trails. Once you build up the stamina and confidence, feel free to branch out to things like Mountain Biking.
Flat trails give you time to build up your fitness by using your own bodyweight for resistance. You can alternate pace to add intervals. However, if you plan to Mountain Bike, prepare for much more of a workout.
This is another instance where you judge your level of fitness to see what you can do. Just remember, it is better to stay on the safe side and grow from there.
The Best Bikes for weight loss
If you read my article, “How much can you weigh and still ride a bike”, you know that bikes are built to hold quite a bit of weight. But what are the recommended bikes for weight loss?
For weight loss, you should pick a bike based on its weight limit, how comfortable it is, and how well it fits you and your needs. The best bikes for weight loss fall into the following categories:
Average Weight Limit – 300lbs
Riding Position – Relaxed
Mountain Bikes are good for weight loss because they are some of the toughest bikes on the market. They have a relaxed riding position and can come with front and rear suspension. Since they have features for the trail, they can be a be little heavier and slower on the pavement.
Average Weight Limit – 300lbs
Riding Position – Relaxed
Hybrid bikes are another recommended bike for weight loss due to their solid build and relaxed riding position. They are a mix of Road Bike and Mountain bike and are a lot easier to ride over paved surfaces. Being just a versatile as a Mountain bike, Hybrids have become the most popular commuter bike.
Average Weight Limit – 300lbs
Riding Position – Relaxed
These bikes can easily support riders upwards of 300lbs and provide the major benefit of additional pedaling power. Again, these bikes focus on keeping you in an upright and natural riding position, so comfort is not sacrificed.
Average Weight Limit – 600lbs
Riding Position – Reclined
Trikes and Recumbent bikes are great bikes for weight loss, as they hold the most weight and keep riders in the most comfortable riding position. These bikes can be a little pricey but are worth it if it gets you out there pedaling off the pounds.
There are also special companies that build Hybrid bikes that support weights up to 600lbs, however, these bikes can be really pricey
Essential Bike Gear for weight loss
- Cycling shorts – No matter what your weight is, it takes a while to adjust to the bike seat. Heavier riders may find it harder to adjust to the saddle. Cycling shorts help provide that extra padding, and can also help prevent chaffing
- Wider Bike Seat or Padded Cover – If you still have trouble adjusting to the bike seat, you may need to upgrade to a wider seat or a memory foam seat pad
In conclusion, is cycling a good exercise for weight loss? The answer is certainly yes!
In this article we discussed why cycling may be one of the best exercises for weight loss. It offers a great, low impact exercise, all while letting you get outside and enjoy nature.
If you have any questions or recommendations, please comment below.