If you want to lose weight it’s a simple combination of less junk and more exercise, but what exercise is going to work well, and keep you motivated to meet your long term health and weight loss goals? It’s well worth trying a number of different options to see what works best for your budget and personality. Try swimming, jogging, skiing, basketball, weights etc., however, I do have to recommend cycling as one of the best weight loss exercise options out there, for the following reasons.
Cycling for fitness and weight loss
The stress reduction is a big one. Usually the first thing people add to their life when they start restricting their foods and adding exercise is stress themselves out. There’s stress with weigh ins, counting calories, panting down the street in the sun, wind or hail, and it’s bad for you. Not only will stress stop you from losing weight, it will strain your body and mind. Cycling is a fantastic choice when it comes to enhancing your lifestyle because it reduces stress, clears your head and makes you happy.
When you really enjoy your ride it doesn’t feel like hard work at all, getting out to bike paths will keep you out of traffic and rolling through beautiful scenery, alongside rivers and through meadows. As you pedal you will release happy chemicals called endorphins into your blood stream that reduce stress and have you singing (or humming) a happy tune as you go. If you are tired of stressful diets and harsh routines that have failed you in the past, try something different, eat a balanced diet, go cycling often and forget about the scales.
Not everyone can lace up runners and go for a run. If your current weight is significant, if you have joint pain, arthritis, are coming back from illness or surgery, then running or contact sports will be out of the question. Walking can be beneficial but also boring after a while. Cycling is an activity that has a low impact on joints, especially on knees and ankles. You move quickly and easily on a bike, which is a treat after being immobile for any length of time.
Intervals are the fastest and most effective way to burn fat and get fit quickly, however, running sprints is not an activity that everyone can do, especially people over the age of 40. Interval sprints on a bike is very easy on joints so you can achieve the speed and exertion you need for weight loss without jarring joints and getting shin splints.
It’s as simple as going as fast as you can on a smooth quiet road for a period of time, be that 30 seconds or three minutes, whatever your current fitness level is, then riding slowly for a time, usually around double for short sprints and similar time for longer bouts, so say go hard for 30 seconds, rest for 60 seconds or go hard for three minutes and rest for five minutes, then repeat this 6-8 times.
Your body will go through peaks and troughs where healing is required, where other things take priority or you just can’t do as well as yesterday, or last week. That’s fine, and perfectly normal. You are not expected to do better each day, just your best, and let the process unfold in it’s own imperfect way.
Now that you have wheels under you, you have the flexibility to go hard for a short burst, coast and take it easy, go up an incline, speed down a hill. Change up your pace and distance depending on your day, or what you are needing to achieve that week or month, maybe following a party when you overindulged with some cardio interval sprints, or leading up to an event where you want to look your best by going for some moderate paced long distance rides.
No matter what your age cycling is a great way to get active. I’ve seen people start cycling in their 50s and love it so much they can’t go a day without it into their 70s. It’s never too soon or too late to take up cycling.
Cycling is great for any age because it fits into whatever your lifestyle is. A busy mum can cycle to the shops, a retiree can go for a long coastal ride, kids can take themselves to the park or to school while a business executive can ride to work.
When it comes to cycling you can head out on a solo morning ride, just for you, or join a community event and ride with hundreds of other bike pals, or take on any combination in between. Go for a ride with your family, your friends, your work colleges or join one of the many cycling clubs in your suburb to keep you motivated, make friends and see and do more while you exercise.
When you have multiple options for when and where you cycle it’s easy to clock up time on the bike. 3,000 kilometres a year is very achievable for a new rider, just by being open to your ride options, like charity events and club rides.
Poor weather, crazy traffic or you want to chill at home for the day? You can get just as much benefit by moving your bike onto a stationary roller. There are plenty to chose from that are cost effective and easy to snap your bike into. As a bonus you can play your favourite music or catch up on your favourite shows while you get fit.
As long as you eat smart in volume and quality and cycle consistently you will see the weight fall off in no time, all while having fun, meeting new people and going new places.
Doing something you love and losing weight at the same time? That’s freedom!