Does riding a bike help you lose weight? – With Complete Time and Calories Guide

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Does Riding a Bike Help you lose weight?

Any exercise that demands physical activity from the body at an intensive level can be used to lose weight and biking can get very intense if you try and make it so.

So Does riding a bike help you lose weight? Yes, riding a bike will definitely help you lose weight. In fact, it will also build up your stamina and make your legs stronger while helping with your posture if you do it the right way.

Let’s get down to understanding how we lose weight while cycling (can be both stationary or outdoors), while also covering some of the fundamental topics and questions that can help us explain the main topic better.

Will I lose weight cycling an hour a day?

 

Let’s get this out of the way. You can and will lose weight by biking consistently and with the determination to lose weight, over a long enough period of time. There are many ways to lose weight. Some can actually be detrimental to the body, even if you lose weight. While others like planned workouts and casual routines are supposed to fall in the ‘ideal’ category for a normal person.

An hour a day could be more than enough exercise to start losing weight. Cycling even half of that time span could show considerable results for some people in just a month or so.

Tables given further on will show you how much calories you can lose both on stationary and mobile bikes.

So it’s not a question of whether or not you can lose weight by riding a bike, it’s generally supposed to be more about getting yourself to push far enough and then doing it consistently.

Is bicycling a good exercise?

 

To answer this question, you have to consider biking in comparison with other exercises.

Whole-body exercises like running are generally supposed to be better for people trying to lose weight. This is because the body has to do more work in the same amount of time. Not only are your legs moving but so are your arms. Your back has to take all the impact from each tread so it becomes a more inclusive exercise. So if you’re looking to lose weight, there are other options than riding.

But if you’re into riding even a little bit, biking will be rewarding, especially when it’s applied in tandem with some other exercise, like 20 minutes of riding and 20 minutes of upper body exercises. Even if you don’t work other exercises into the mix, the benefits you get from biking alone include:

Practicality

You can’t run to work for obvious reasons since most offices don’t favor sweaty people walking into their place of work wearing running attire. You definitely can’t bench-press your way to work. But biking… you can integrate it into the routine. It’s fast, it’s practical, it’s actually a very efficient and effective means of transportations for people looking to lose weight. In fact, biking should probably be the best way to go around for people looking to shed a few pounds but always have the time to walk half a mile.

Now obviously, if you’re trying to lose weight fast, you will have to adopt a more intense and more specific course of action compared to casual commuters that bike to trim away the occasional pizzas and cakes or muffins and stuff. So non-recreational or relatively intense biking is probably the more suitable way to go for such people in contrast with the people who like to keep waxing off that not-so-fat layer of chub they occasionally get going on.

Calorie burn

The potential for calorie burn from biking is as good as you’ll get with similar exercises or even more inclusive exercises like running.  It all depends on the type of bike, terrain, and the overall intensity of the ride. A 30-minute trek through the woods on a mountain bike is obviously going to require more work (and thus more calories from the body) than going down paved roads for the same amount of time.

If you’re a numbers person who likes to iron out the little details, let’s get you comfortable by letting you know exactly how many calories you’ll be burning at different paces.

Sources show that biking at a ‘moderate’ pace outdoors may burn the following number of calories over  a 30-minute time period:

 

Biker’s approximate weight Time period Intensity Calories burned
120 lbs.

 

30 minutes Moderate(10-12 mph) 223
60 minutes 446
155 lb 30 minutes Moderate(10-12 mph) 281
60 minutes 562
188 lbs 30 minutes Moderate(10-12 mph) 341
60 minutes 682
 

 

As for defining moderate, the ACE or American Council on Exercise has put three speed options on their Physical Activity Calorie Counter suggesting the three levels for exercise to be 5.5 mph as leisurely/ recreational, 12-13 mph as a moderate pace, and 16-19 mph as racing pace.

You can use the calculator for your particulars to see exactly how many calories you’re likely to burn by biking certain distances.

As a comparison, the calorie burn for a treadmill is given below:

Biker’s approximate weight Time period Intensity Calories burned
120 lbs.

 

30 minutes Moderate (5 mph) 220
60 minutes 440
155 lbs. 30 minutes Moderate (5 mph) 206
60 minutes 412
188 lbs. 30 minutes Moderate (5 mph) 340
60 minutes 682
 

 

How many times a week should I ride my bike?

 

Consistency and determination are the key factors in deciding how effective your workout will be. However, going too hard or too fast can effectively damage the body rather than strengthen it, at least in the relatively short term.

As a rule of thumb, workout routines should ideally involve periodic repetition rather than a ‘do it when you feel like it’ attitude. And since the most common unit of repetition most people are supposed to have is a day, working out every day is a very good goal. Don’t get me wrong, making exceptions once in a while is always an option and can actually be very necessary at times but it’s better to think of it as a contingency rather than an alternative that can you can take depending on your mood alone.

The good thing about rhythms and planned routines is that your body conforms or adapts itself according to the routine. That’s exactly what happens with your metabolism. For example, the exact number of mitochondria in the body is partly determined by how much you work out. (Mitochondria are those little bean-like organelles that produce energy for the body.) The same thing happens to muscles, they grow when they’re used a lot and the body waxes them back down once they stop being used for a long enough while.

How long should I bike for a good workout?

When you’re starting out, especially if you’re not familiar with much cardio at the time, take it slow. Biking out and about for even 10 to 15 minutes twice or even once a day will get you going. Once you’re familiar with your heart rates and are on the way to building up endurance, you can go 30 to 40 minutes for a single ride. You can actually cover a lot of distance in that time too so that’s something for the recreational or adventurous types that want to familiarize themselves with routes around town or who knows, maybe even out of town.

The AHA recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate to vigorous activity per week.

-Endurance Exercise (Aerobic) | American Heart Association

Again, different people will have different bodies and different needs and opinions for their bodies so fluidity is always something to keep in perspective with workout lengths. Workout for longer periods of time only when you feel like it and don’t stress yourself too far so that you’re not all cramped up for the next ride.

As a general rule, limit your time up to an hour for a single riding session. If your body’s up to the task and mind’s all fired up to go that extra mile, you can extend your usual time past how long you usually do but the main thing to be kept in mind with any workout is to build up endurance gradually. Not too steep and definitely not too flat if you want to see positive results.

 

You should know that terms like ‘light’, ‘moderate’, and ‘intense’ are relative and different for different people. According to the American Heart Association:

Target heart rate during moderate-intensity activities is about 50-70% of maximum heart rate, while during vigorous physical activity it’s about 70-85% of maximum.

If you don’t know your maximum heart rate, the AHA proposes using this method:

Maximum heart rate= 220 – Age in years

To know how hard you have to work, you have to have your own particulars in mind, not other peoples. This should also clarify the main question, “Does riding a bike help you lose weight?”

 

Is it OK to ride a stationary bike?

 

Considering the recent global developments, the notion of a gym-at-home setup has gotten very practical and safe. Being cooped up without proper equipment to exercise will probably be detrimental to muscle volume for people who workout consistently.

Though biking outside is still an option under the circumstances, stationary bikes may certainly be the better approach for the more prudent among us. And the answer to whether riding stationary bikes is okay is quite simple.

When it comes to the physics and convenience of it, there’s actually a chance stationary bikes may be better rides.

  • They have variable resistances that you can decide so they don’t tend to put your body through too much stress if you know how to use them, they shouldn’t require as much maintenance as real bikes while still being able to dial up the intensity by increasing resistance on the drivetrain or the rims to be specific.
  • They’re residential equipment so they don’t take away all the comfort of all the amenities you have at home.
  • They also leave you the option of tending to emergencies as quickly as you possibly can since you’re not far from home.
  • As far as the calorie consumption goes, most of the calculators seem to be using the same method for exercise bike calorie consumption and regular bike calorie consumption but just for the sake of doing it, let’s take a look into consumption on an exercise bike:
Biker’s weight Time period Intensity Calories burned
120 lbs.

 

30 minutes Moderate (10-12 mph) 168
60 minutes 336
155 lbs. 30 minutes Moderate (10-12 mph) 242
60 minutes 206
188 lbs. 30 minutes Moderate (10-12 mph) 311
60 minutes 622
 

The table is pretty close to the one for calorie burn on a regular bike with the same pace. This reinforces the assumption of most sources (calorie consumption calculators) that indoor biking and non-obstacle outdoor cycling is pretty much the same when it comes to calorie consumption.

The exercise itself isn’t all that different in terms of mechanics. That is unless you want to go for a recumbent stationary bike rather than the upright one. Even with the recumbent, you’ll still be exercising the same muscles in the lower body, the difference will just be the posture in the recumbent bike. There just won’t be any wind coursing through your clothes nor will it be just as pleasant as a cool morning ride or a warm afternoon ride.

So all in all, yes, if it’s practical and you enjoy it, stationary bikes can be very satisfying compared to their outdoor cousins.

Factors that decide how much and how fast you lose weight on the bike:

 

Terrain

The reason calorie burn calculators involve speed in their calculations and not terrain is because you can go at different speeds on the same bike but you can’t do all terrains on the same bike. Try driving a race bike through a rock garden, for example. It shouldn’t take anyone too long to see the increased amount of struggle that you get put through.

And that’s where the terrain becomes relevant. It’s pretty obvious that the more you have to exert, the more gains (calorie burn wise) you’re going to get. So calorie burn in off-road biking like forest terrain and other terrains that involve obstacles like Cyclocross and BMX courses is something that is better left aside when we talk about calorie consumption on ‘normal bikes’ because of the considerable increase in intensity.

The point here is that terrain matters, it increases the intensity and that increases the body’s exertion for proportionate weight loss.

Type of bikes

As mentioned above, different bikes make for different results. Taking a trim, minimalistic bike with trim tires (essentially road bikes and commuters, etc.) for a ride around town at 10-12 mph will be much easier than taking a cushy cruiser or a bulky mountain bike across town at paces even near that speed.

That’s because there are many different aspects that decide exactly what a bike is for. If it’s for speed (as in road bikes) you’re going to have an easier time covering the same amount of distance and so will burn fewer calories than going the same distance with a bike designed for comfort or recreation.

Body’s own weight

Bigger bodies need more fuel. And since calories are essentially fuel and not some demonized particles running around your body; adding to your body fat here and there, bigger people burn more of them than slimmer people. They have to move around larger loads, so to speak.

So don’t be astonished if a bigger person tells you they burn more calories (or essentially lose more pounds) for the same speed and same terrain you follow.

Diet

Cutting back on dietary imbalances always has been and probably will be one of the pivotal things people trying to lose serious weight have to look into. It can be gruesome at first but there is no corner to cut here unless of course, you’re considering liposuction.

Liposuction probably won’t be a solution to your issue, at least not permanently. That is if you don’t commit to a healthier exercise and diet regime along with the procedure. Not to mention, the risks and side-effects if really entertained can be concerning enough for people to rather do it the hard way and cut back on the diet especially since the procedure doesn’t prevent future weight gain.

One of the things that people on diets have to look out for is carbs. This is kind of even harder than avoiding normal food because sweet stuff is very satisfying in terms of palatability or satiation. But what you get in return is cutting back on the biggest, most common source of calorie intake.

You’re usually advised to eat more nutrient-rich food with low calories. That can be confusing at times because calorie sources are technically nutrients but it can be thought of as eat food rich that has a diverse spectrum of minerals and vitamins, etc. while avoiding calorie-rich stuff like starch ( generally very abundant in potatoes), etc.

Another interesting thing to know if you don’t have too many pounds to lose on you is that you might not lose weight as quickly if you start eating protein-rich food content because working out plus proteins kind of equals weight gain. So the fat weight you’ll be losing might get balanced out by the muscle weight increasing.

 

 

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