Previously, Hannah Mann discussed some of the health benefits of biking, which include lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and enhancing wellbeing. Not mentioned is that biking is actually perfect for those looking to shed excess pounds.
So with that in mind, here are five ways getting on a bike can transform you from flab to fab:
A Cardio Boost
Based on research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the optimal mode of exercise for reducing fat mass and body mass is aerobic training, and biking happens to be exactly that— a moderately intense physical activity that you can perform for an extended period of time. In the aforementioned research, participants who did aerobic training for a period of 8 months showed more reductions in total body mass and fat mass compared to participants who performed resistance training.
A Calorie Burn
Weight loss primarily depends on the ratio of calories burned vs. calories consumed. Translation: more calories burned and less calories consumed equals weight loss. This means that the secret to weight loss according to Harvard Medical School is “cutting back on calories consumed while bumping up total activity level.”
Biking is a proven calorie burner, especially when the intensity is ramped up for sustained periods. An Appalachian State University study even suggests that pedalling vigorously for 45 minutes can increase post exercise energy expenditure by as much as 37%, which translates to an additional 190 calories burned after the activity.
Biking gets you in better shape overall, which means you can add or incorporate other physical activities into your weight loss program. You can try out resistance training, for instance, or even high intensity interval training (HIIT) once as your fitness increases.
Bust That Stress!
Stress is a contributor to overeating and lack of energy; biking, fortunately, can be an effective stress buster. In ‘Stress Relief: The Role of Exercise in Stress Management’ Dr. Erica Jackson notes that people “report feeling calmer after a 20- to 30-minute bout of aerobic exercise,” and that this calming effect “can last for several hours after exercise.” The Delaware University professor further explains that exercise (e.g., biking) can counter stress through hormone responses, and by causing an increase in the production of dopamine and serotonin, which both affect mood and behaviour.
A More Disciplined You
Biking helps develop discipline, as it takes a certain level of self-restraint to bike long distances. This discipline, once it translates to your lifestyle, can help you stick better to your fitness and health goals.
To reap the weight loss benefits of biking you must also complement your bike rides with healthy habits, specifically eating right and getting enough sleep. Every two-hour, high-intensity biking session, for example, will just go for naught if you cap that ride off with a treat every single time.
Not getting sufficient sleep is just as bad for your weight loss battle, as people who don’t get enough sleep tend to feel hungry even when they are actually not. Fitness expert Jim White explains that sleep deprivation causes an increase in the production of the hunger hormone called leptin, which can make you feel hungry and in turn lead you to overeat. Aside from that, sleep loss can render you lethargic and unable to perform at your optimum best. When you are not at your best, you won’t be able to ramp up the intensity of your bike ride. A biking session works best if you can pedal at a moderate pace at the very least.