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Does Cycling Help You Lose Weight in Your Waist & Thighs?

by
author image Amanda Gronot
In 2008 Amanda Gronot began her professional career as a writer for a research company. She helped ghostwrite a book for a prominent CEO and has had essays and translations published in the prestigious classics journal "Helicon." Gronot graduated with a four-year Master of Arts/Bachelor of Arts in classics from Yale University.
Does Cycling Help You Lose Weight in Your Waist & Thighs?
Biking is a good form of cardiovascular exercise. Photo Credit Warren Goldswain/iStock/Getty Images

Cycling is an aerobic exercise, which is the kind of exercise you need to perform to lose fat on any part of your body. Aerobic exercise burns many calories, and the key to losing weight is burning more calories than you consume. You can't perform exercises that target a specific area such as your waist and thighs; instead, you need to perform heart-rate-raising exercises like cycling that burn abundant calories and reduce your total body mass. Cycling will help you get rid of that excess fat but only in combination with a healthy diet.

Weight-Loss Basics

To lose weight on any part of your body, you need to burn more calories than you consume. A pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, so you need to burn an excess of 500 to 1,000 calories per day to lose 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week, which is considered a healthy rate. Achieving this deficit requires a combination of eating fewer calories and burning additional calories through exercise and increased daily activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and two days of strength training per week.

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Low-Impact Exercise

Cycling, short for bicycling, can be done on a bicycle outdoors or on a stationary bike in a gym. You can cycle for long distances at low resistance, or you can ride hills for higher resistance over a shorter period of time. Cycling is often recommended for weight loss because it is easier on your joints than running. It's considered a low-impact aerobic exercise. Unless you're cycling at more than 20 mph, you'll burn fewer calories per hour than running at 10 mph. However, the low-impact aspect and slower pace makes it easier for non-athletes to follow a regular cycling routine.

Calories Burned Cycling

The number of calories you burn during any workout depends largely on your current weight. It also depends on how vigorously you exercise and the duration of your exercise. If you weigh 130 pounds and take a leisurely pace on either an outdoor bike or a stationary bike, you will burn between 170 and 250 calories per hour. If you weigh 205 pounds, on the other hand, you will burn between 270 and 370 calories per hour. At 130 pounds at a moderate intensity, you would burn about 400 to 470 calories, and at a high intensity, you would burn about 700 calories per hour. Generally, stationary bikes burn slightly fewer calories than real bikes, but you may have a harder time staying honest about your intensity on a normal bike, whereas gym bikes track the calories for you.

Muscle Building

Like any exercise, cycling can build specific muscles, which can cause you to put on more weight. However, as long as you are creating a calorie deficit with your diet, this should not occur, as muscles need extra nutrients and fuel to grow. Still, if you want to wholly avoid building muscle and boost your endurance, cycle at low to moderate resistance for longer periods of time, rather than cycling at high intensity for short bursts. This will keep your heart rate elevated at a fat-burning level and help you burn an adequate number of calories to lose weight without giving you bulky muscles.

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