There is nothing quite like the wind blowing through your hair as you pedal on your bike for the first time the cold breaks and spring appears. It is a feeling of freedom, joy, and memories, but it can also be the start of a journey into weight loss.
Biking can be an excellent way to lose weight and increase your cardio fitness, especially if running is hard on your joints. However, in order to make the switch from recreational riding to fitness riding, you may have to up your bike game just a little bit ;).
This article will work to answer some of the questions and concerns you may have about fitness biking for improved cardio health or weight loss, but if you have additional questions please let us know in the comments section below.
1. What kind of bike should I be riding to lose weight?
The best kind of bike to aid you in your fitness and weight loss journey is a bike that you want to continue to ride. For some people this means a hybrid bike that they can take on both paved and graveled paths or if they want a similar experience with a touch more comfort, a bike path bike.. For some this will mean hopping on a road bike and cruising at higher speeds on paved roads and bike paths. For others, who want to take it to the trails, a mountain bike could be the answer. Check out all our bike categories at our blog post Choosing the Right Bike!
There is no wrong answer to this. Simply imagine where you see yourself enjoying your bike ride and get the bike that matches that vision. Your best bet for weight loss is to continue to move, so you want a bike that you never want to ever stop riding!
2. I have bad knees or joint problems. Can I still ride a bike for cardio exercise?
The best thing about riding a bike for fitness is that it is a low-impact exercise. Simply put this means your joints will not have nearly as much stress put on them as activities like running would, and you should be able to go for miles. However, you should always meet with your doctor before embarking on a weight loss or exercise journey, especially if you have medical concerns, or previous conditions.
3. How many miles do I have to bike to lose weight?
Like many exercises it is less about the total miles and more about the duration and challenge of your bike ride that will be most valuable in your goal to lose weight. That doesn’t mean miles should be obsolete. In fact, one of the best ways to increase your fitness is to track how many miles you traveled in a set amount of time. If your goal is to bike for 30 minutes see how many miles you were able to cover in that time. Then you can track your progress and increase the amount of miles you are able to travel in the same amount of time. Another way to progress is by increasing the amount of time you are on the bike. If you are biking 30 minutes keep increasing that time by 5 minutes and soon you will be out there for an hour. Both of these methods will help insure that you continue to improve your fitness and weight loss efforts and ultimately begin to see a positive change.
4. How can I track my miles and time spent on the bike?
There are many wonderful biking computers and apps on your cellphone that will help you track your fitness goals. One great app that I personally use is Map My Fitness’s Map My Ride. Map My Ride will not only keep track of your distance, time, calories burned, and split times, it will also let you trace out new routes before you go out on your bike. This way you will know just how far you are going to be going before you even get out on the bike.
5. Does biking really burn that many calories?
You may be surprised to learn just how many calories biking can burn. While the exact break down varies from person to person and is dependent on height, weight, effort, and time, the example to the right is a great way to see how calories burned biking compares to other activities for someone with a weight of 155lbs.
Furthermore, biking actively utilizes several of your large muscles. In order to pedal the bike you must use your quads, hamstrings, hip muscles, and glutes. Building these muscles will help you burn fat over time simply through the energy needed to maintain these muscles. Aka bonus points! Your body will continue to burn more calories even after the bike ride.
6. Do I need a lot of extra equipment?
You don’t really need any extra equipment other than you, your bike, and your helmet. However, it is never a bad idea to be prepared. When you are biking for long periods of time and over great distances there are more chances for things to happen and it is best to be ready for anything.
Items to bring:
- Helmet – Protect your brain. You only get one!
- Water bottle – Stay hydrated!
- Padded shorts – To keep your booty happy.
- Bike Lock – If you plan on stopping anywhere you don’t want to lose your bike.
- Sun glasses – It is a good idea to protect your eyes from sun and possibly road debris.
- Saddle pack – Great for holding the following:
- Tools to fix a possible flat – C02 cartridge, multi-tool, bicycle tube.
- Cellphone – In case you need to call someone for assistance.
- Extra Money – In case you need to patch a tire, need to rehydrate or refuel, or call a taxi.
- ID – In case of an emergency *knock on wood*.
- Keys – So you can get back inside your house 😉
- Bring a water bottle. If you cannot guarantee that you will biking in a location that has frequent opportunities to stop for water, then this is a must! Dehydration will not only set you back in your goals it could put you in a threatening situation that you do not want to be in. The best thing to do is keep a water bottle on you, in your backpack, on your bike, or in your kit. You are going to be really pushing your body so make sure you keep it hydrated!
- Do not ride with headphones in. It is important to be able to both hear and see what is around you for your safety and the safety of others. If your hearing is impaired you may not be able to react as quickly to sudden situations.
- Eat for energy. If you plan on going for a long bike ride and are not properly fueled your efforts will not pay off. Your body needs energy to be able to pedal the bicycle for long distance and also needs the energy to burn fat. Make sure that you are eating nutritious foods to help you reach your goals!
If you have any questions about how biking can help you with your fitness and weight loss goals that we didn’t cover in this article, or if you have a weight loss story that you would like to share, please leave us a comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now go out and feel the burn!