Does Using Your Bicycle Make You Lose Weight?

by William McCoy
Cycling is an effective workout to help you lose weight.

Cycling is an effective workout to help you lose weight.

Whether you enjoy an evening cruise around the neighborhood with your family, a grueling up-tempo bike ride on the weekend or an adventure through a nearby wooded area, you're improving your health every time you hop on your bike. Using your bicycle regularly is an effective way to burn calories to lead to weight loss, provided you also make the necessary diet adjustments.

When your fitness goal is losing weight, you'll find success by burning more calories than you consume. Upon doing so, your body enters a calorie-deficit phase, which is the key to burning fat to help you lose weight. Exercises that burn calories quickly, including riding your bicycle, are an ideal way to reach a calorie deficit. When you're able to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume, you'll lose 1 pound of fat. MayoClinic.com notes it's reasonable to set a weight-loss goal of 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Harvard Medical School notes you can burn hundreds of calories during a single bike ride. However, a number of factors impact the rate at which you burn calories. You'll exert more energy, thus burning more calories, while riding uphill. Conversely, your rate of burning calories declines as you ride downhill, as you often will do more coasting than pedaling. Likewise, biking into a strong wind requires more energy expenditure, and biking with the wind at your back requires less exertion. If you struggle with being aerodynamic, wear tight-fitting clothing designed for cyclists; you might experience fewer issues with the wind.

If you plan to use cycling as a method of losing weight, aim to get at least 300 minutes of the activity per week to meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services aerobic exercise guidelines for adults. Carefully monitor your calorie intake, too; the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion advises that women consume roughly 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day for weight maintenance, and Bodybuilding.com notes cutting your daily calorie intake by 500 calories can help you lose weight.

Whether you've got young children or teenagers, gather your family for bike rides one or more times per week. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children and adolescents get at least 60 minutes of aerobic exercise per day, and biking as a family can not only help you lose weight, but also keep your children in shape. Beyond weight loss, cycling is an effective way to build your muscles, strengthen your bones and improve your mood.

About the Author

Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as health, nutrition and sports. He has spent much of his career in community news, including at "Nepean This Week" newspaper, and has written for "Canadian Sports Collector" magazine. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.

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