Cycling for Weight Loss
Cycling is a popular exercise and mode of transport, said to have a number of health benefits. This article will explore these alleged benefits, using clinical studies to form a conclusion on whether cycling is effective for weight loss.
Cycling is not only a popular mode of transport, but it’s also praised as an exercise, said to promote weight loss, burn fat and strengthen joints and muscles. Cycling is also believed to be an exercise that reduces stress, amongst many other potential health benefits.
This article will discuss the alleged health benefits of cycling, looking specifically at its ability to promote weight loss. Here, we’ll look at any relevant clinical studies linked to cycling and the effects it has been shown to have in terms of weight loss. We will also discuss tips and techniques that are said to produce the most effective results.
The Benefits of Cycling
Cycling is an activity that can be completed for exercise, as a mode of transport, to race and compete in sports, or just for fun. Whatever your reason for cycling is, it’s said to be an activity that comes with endless benefits to your health, to the environment and even for your mental wellbeing.
As a mode of transport, cycling is said to have many benefits. Many cyclists choose to cycle instead of drive or commute on public transport because it’s said to be cheaper, more environmentally friendly as bikes don’t emit pollution and, ultimately, it’s a way to keep fit.
Others say that cycling can improve sleep, boost your immune system, increase bowel movements, prevent cancer and heart problems and even protect your skin from UV radiation to prevent signs of ageing.
It has also been said that cycling during pregnancy can encourage an easier, smoother labour as well as improving recovery after childbirth. In addition, some cyclists praise the activity because it can allow you to meet new people and spend quality time with others as cycling is believed to be an activity enjoyed by the whole family.
One article discusses potential mental health benefits that can be achieved through aerobic exercises such as cycling, swimming, jogging, walking, gardening and dancing. Here, they link to studies that have found these exercises to reduce anxiety and depression. They suggest that this may be caused because the exercise activities are said to increase blood circulation to the brain, as well as influencing the ‘HPA axis’.
The HPA axis is believed to communicate with several areas of the brain, and this is said to potentially influence the physiologic reactivity to stress. In particular, these researchers discuss how HPA axis targets areas such as the limbic system and the hippocampus, both areas that allegedly controls motivation and mood, as well as memory function.
They also claimed that regular exercise like cycling could improve sleep, increase libido, provide better endurance, relieve stress, improve mood, raise energy and stamina, reduce fatigue and increase alertness, as well as possibly improving cardiovascular fitness and aiding in weight loss and reducing cholesterol.
How Can Cycling Aid in Weight Loss?
Many people claim that cycling can aid in weight loss, but how is it achieved? It’s said that because cycling is a cardiovascular exercise, it can benefit the heart and promote weight loss, but it allegedly doesn’t push unnecessary impact on your joints in the same way that running or walking might.
Cycling is believed to be an activity that burns lots of calories. However, the amount in which it allegedly burns depends entirely on the intensity of the exercise. Bikes have different gears and you can travel at different speeds in different locations.
Some cyclists make the mistake of thinking that in order to lose more weight quickly, you must cycle in higher gears to raise the intensity of the exercise. Of course, cycling in a high gear is said to build more muscle and burn fat at a faster pace, but it’s also said to be less effective overall as it uses up your blood sugar, subsequently reducing the amount of energy you have and making you feel tired much more quickly.
Instead, it’s advised that in order to produce the most effective weight loss results from cycling, you should concentrate more on burning calories. While the amount of calories burnt from the exercise varies depending on the cyclist’s body and the intensity of their exercise, there are charts that help you calculate how many calories your cycling routines may burn.
It’s advised that in order to achieve the most effective weight loss results from cycling, you should use lower gears combined with a faster speed. While this may feel easier than pushing yourself harder to cycle in higher gears, it allows you to spread the workload across your body, and this lets you cycle for much longer, without getting tired and running out of energy as quickly.
In addition, exercises such as cycling are said to improve mental health, and research has suggested that cycling could improve mood and reduce anxiety and depression, as discussed earlier in the article. Many people comfort eat or eat when they’re stressed, bored or unhappy, and this can potentially lead to weight gain. However, by improving mood, cycling may prevent people from comfort eating and unnecessarily binging on unhealthy foods.
How to Cycle for Weight Loss
Now you have an understanding of how cycling may encourage weight loss, there are some tips that fellow cyclists have shared to make the most of your cycling exercise regime, and to increase any potential weight loss benefits.
Many say that fuelling your body with food is an essential aspect of any cycling program. It’s believed that you should consume a healthy breakfast before cycling in the morning, because this will allegedly kick-start your metabolism and prevent the body from storing fat instead of burning it, which is what is said to happen if you skip breakfast, like many people do.
Some say that unlike other exercises, cycling allows you to eat on the go, and you apparently should. Especially in longer-distance, more timely cycling routes, it’s believed that eating healthy but substantial snacks while you’re cycling can fuel the body with energy on the go, as well as preventing hunger pangs that may occur after the workout. This technique is said to stop the possibility of binging after, and will instead allow you to eat normally for the rest of the day.
It’s said that some cyclists make the mistake of wearing too much because they want to sweat more. This idea is allegedly flawed because it is likely to dehydrate you, making you need to drink more and more. Furthermore, you won’t be as comfortable, which is why lycra is a preferable material.
As well as regular exercise, a healthy diet is also said to be essential when it comes to promoting healthy weight loss. It’s recommended that people consume a diet consisting of more vegetables and lean protein. This is allegedly because it not only fuels the body, but it also provides it with essential nutrients that the body needs.
Clinical Studies on Cycling for Weight Loss
When searching for clinical studies on cycling and its effect on weight loss, the majority of studies that appear revolve around the idea of ‘weight cycling’, which is another term for ‘yo-yo dieting’. However, there have been some studies that discuss cycling as an exercise and how it may effect different aspects of weight loss, and these are discussed below.
One study explored potential weight loss without dietary restriction, and instead focused on how different exercise programs could affect body weight. They introduced the study by discussing how obese patients with orthopaedic disabilities are often advised to partake in certain exercises in order to lose weight.
A sample of obese yet healthy young women were divided into 3 groups where they completed a daily exercise program. Each group participated in a different exercise, without changing their diet for a total of at least 6 months; the first group completed a swimming program, the second group were instructed to walk briskly and the third group cycled on a stationary exercise bike.
Results found that each group gradually enhanced their performance and prolonged the time spent exercising each day until they were all spending 60 minutes per day on their assigned exercise. In terms of weight loss, the results varied and they found that the swimming group saw no change in body weight.
However, the walking group lost an average of 10% of their initial body weight, and the cycling group lost an average of 12% of their initial weight. These results therefore suggest that cycling may be the most effective exercise to lose weight, at least in obese women who haven’t changed their diet. However, it’s advised that you should consume a healthy diet and partake in regular exercise in order to lead a healthy lifestyle.
The following study investigated how a ketogenic diet affected aerobic performance and exercise metabolism, using a sample of 8 male off-road cyclists. Participants were aged between 24-32 years old and each had at least 5 years of training experience in off-road competitive cycling.
Cyclists were assigned either a mixed diet, or a ketogenic diet that was rich in ‘polyunsaturated fatty acids’. Each participant partook in a continuous exercise protocol, using a stationary exercise bike, and the intensity varied in correspondence to the diet that each cyclist consumed.
Results found that those consuming the ketogenic diet saw improvements in their lipid profiles, as well as in their body mass and body composition. They also suggested that eating a ketogenic diet rich in fatty acids could prolong exercise performance and enhance endurance in long-distance cycling events that last between 2-5 hours, especially when consumed regularly in the long-term.
Risks of Cycling
While cycling may be an enjoyable activity with many alleged benefits to your health and lifestyle, it’s important to take appropriate safety precautions before getting on your bike. Before cycling, you should ensure that you are equipped with a suitable amount of safety gear, including a helmet to prevent head injuries, as well as appropriate lights and reflectors if you’re cycling at night.
Before buying a bike, cyclists should also ensure that it fits them well and suits their body sufficiently. This will make cycling feel much more comfortable, and could subsequently improve performance, and it may also prevent any injuries from occurring.
In addition, cyclists should take a number of safety measures when they’re actually on the road as well. It’s important to stay focused when cycling, ensuring that you look over your shoulder and in all directions when making a turn, signalling with your arms to inform other road users on your intentions to avoid any accidents.
Cyclists should also be careful when overtaking parked cars in case car doors open, and they should keep a safe distance from other road users, especially on busy and narrow roads.
When cycling, it’s also important to maintain concentration, which is why it’s advised not to use headphones or your phone when on the road, and cyclists must always obey road signs and traffic lights. Furthermore, cyclists must ensure that they’re only cycling where they’re permitted to go; many roads have bike lanes, and pavements are generally forbidden to cyclists.
In conclusion, evidence suggests that cycling may be a weight loss inducing activity which may also improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Cycling is not only believed to keep you fit, but it’s also allegedly a more environmentally-friendly and economical alternative to driving. However, while cycling may possess these beneficial properties, there are safety precautions that should be considered before. This includes wearing safety clothing, as well as obeying the rules of the road. Overall, cycling may be an effective way to stay fit and lose weight, especially when combined with a healthy, balanced diet, and as long as cyclists stay safe on the road.
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