Cycling is a fun, low-impact cardio workout that burns plenty of calories and can help you reach your fitness and weight loss goals. In one hour, the number of calories burned stationary biking ranges between 420 and 932.
The number of calories burned in one hour of cycling varies depending on the intensity and speed you cycle at and your body weight. In 60 minutes, you may burn about 420 calories up to as many as 1,466 when cycling at a speed of 20 miles per hour or more.
Cycling: Calories Per Hour
When cycling outdoors, the number of calories you burn increases the faster you cycle. Your body weight is also a factor. The heavier you are, the more calories you'll torch during your workout.
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Harvard Medical School offers estimates for the number of calories you burn cycling, based on the speed of your ride. If a 125-pound cyclist rides for one hour at a speed of 12 to 13.9 miles per hour, he will burn 480 calories. This number increases to 596 calories for a 155-pound cyclist. A 185-pound cyclist burns 710 calories in a single hour.
Calorie burn goes up as you increase the speed of your ride. If you're cycling at a rate of 14 to 15.9 miles per hour, energy expenditure increases to:
600 calories for a 125-pound individual
744 calories for a 155-pound individual
888 calories for a 185-pound individual
When cycling at a rate of 16 to 19 miles per hour, the number of calories burned in an hour is:
720 calories for a 125-pound individual
892 calories for a 125-pound individual
1,066 calories for a 125-pound individual
Experienced cyclists who ride at a speed greater than 20 miles per hour will torch:
- 990 calories for a 125-pound individual
- 1,228 calories for a 125-pound individual
- 1,466 calories for a 125-pound individual
To get a more detailed estimate of the number of calories burned for your specific weight, try this calculator from ExRx.net.
Maximize Your Energy Expenditure
You may not be able to cycle as fast riding a mountain bike on the trails or do tricks on a BMX bike, but you'll still burn plenty of calories during a typical cycling workout. Mountain biking takes you off the beaten path and lets you navigate some of the rougher trails and terrain, including hills.
During a one-hour ride, a 125-pound person will burn about 510 calories. A 155-pound person will burn 632 calories and a 185-pound person will torch 754 calories.
Mountain biking can be a lot of fun, but it can also be more dangerous due to the rough and uneven terrain and steep hills you may encounter. Make sure you don't take trails that are too challenging for your current ability and fitness level. Always take the necessary precautions to have a safe ride.
Check that your bike is in good condition and wear appropriate clothing and shoes, as well as a helmet. Consider carrying a small first aid kit and a repair kit for your bike.
One big benefit of choosing cycling as your form of exercise is that it's an activity you can also do indoors, regardless of the weather. Most gyms have stationary bikes, and this is also a piece of equipment you can consider for your home gym.
Stationary bikes have many options. You can choose a pre-programmed workout or adjust the resistance and time of your workout manually. Calorie burn on a stationary bike is determined by the intensity of your ride.
At a moderate intensity, a 125-pound person burns 420 calories in one hour. A 155-pound person burns 520 calories and a 185-pound person burns 622 calories.
If you push yourself harder and work at a vigorous intensity, you will burn even more calories. In one hour, you can expect to burn:
- 630 calories for a 125-pound individual
- 782 calories for a 155-pound individual
- 932 calories for a 185-pound individual
Exercise Recommendations for Adults
Regular exercise offers a myriad of health benefits, and many Americans aren't getting the minimum recommended amount of daily activity. Some of these benefits include:
- Improved cognitive function that may include better memory, executive function and attention
- Decreased risk of dementia
- Reduced risk of depression and anxiety
- Better sleep quality
- Increased energy
- Reduced blood pressure
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension
- Lower risk of many cancers including breast, stomach and colon cancer
- Decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Weight loss and ease maintaining a healthy weight
Regular exercise can also improve the quality of your life overall. You become better able to perform day-to-day tasks, with less fatigue, and can participate in sports and activities without putting yourself at risk for falls and injury.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each and every week for general wellbeing. Getting even more exercise may increase the health benefits while reducing your risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Determine your intensity by rating how hard you are working on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is resting and 10 is the most intense. Moderate-intensity is a 5 or 6, and vigorous-intensity exercise starts at a 7 or 8.
Try to break up the exercise throughout the week. Cycling is a great way to meet this guideline. Cycling for one hour, five days per week, will get you to 300 minutes per week. If you can only cycle for one hour on three days per week, you still get 180 minutes of exercise, which exceeds the minimum recommendation for exercise.
Consider cycling to work or school. This allows you to get exercise during your commute and helps the environment by decreasing the time you spend driving.
Be sure to round out your exercise program with at least two days of muscle-strengthening exercises that target each of the major muscle groups. You can do this with weights, resistance bands or bodyweight exercises.
Prepare Your Body for Exercise
Be sure to do some stretching or light exercises before increasing your speed and intensity. This will slowly increase your heart rate and warm up your muscles, which helps reduce the risk of an injury while you are cycling. A good warmup is as simple as cycling at a slow, easy pace for the first five to 10 minutes.
When you're done with your ride, cool down with another five to 10 minutes of cycling at an easy pace. Consider incorporating some stretches into your warmup and cool down.
While it may be tempting to push yourself to cycle harder and faster to reach the higher levels of calorie burn, stay on the safe side and listen to your body. Start at a level that is appropriate for you. For example, if you're just getting back into cycling, you may want to start with a shorter ride at a slower pace.
Increase your speed and the length of your workout slowly over time. You want to challenge yourself, but pushing too hard may lead to injury, which can derail your progress.
Make sure that your bike fits you and is properly adjusted. This will help you safely handle it and may reduce pain in your knees and back by helping you maintain good posture while cycling. Your local bike shop can help you with this if you have any questions.
First, make sure the frame is the right size. If you are standing on the ground with the bike between your legs, the top tube should be one or two inches from your body. If you ride a mountain bike, you may want more room.
Adjust the seat so that when the pedal is nearest the ground, your leg has a slight bend. Then, adjust the handlebars so that they are at a comfortable level.
If you experience pain while cycling or if you have a fall, be sure to contact your doctor. Continuing to cycle with an injury may worsen the damage and lengthen the recovery time.
Cycling Safety and Considerations
The most important thing you can do for your safety when cycling is to wear a helmet. Purdue University notes that your risk of a head or brain injury from a fall is decreased by 85 to 88 percent when wearing a helmet. This is important for every ride, but especially so if you are riding on a road with cars or mountain biking down steep hills or over rough terrain.
Wear proper clothing and shoes when you ride. Avoid loose clothing and long shoelaces that can get stuck in your chain or gears. Wear bright, reflective clothes so that you are visible to everyone on the road or trail. You may consider padded bike shorts to make the ride more comfortable, especially if you plan on riding for an hour or more.
Check that your bike is in good condition. Make sure the chain and gears are clean and well-oiled. Before each ride, check that your brakes work properly and your tires are properly inflated. Your bike should have reflectors so you are visible to other traffic. If you are riding at night or in low light, make sure you also have a light for the front and back of your bike.
Follow the rules of the road. Check the laws and regulations in your city or town. In most cases, bikes are subject to the same traffic laws that govern motor vehicles. This means that you must stop at lights and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Ride on the right side of the road, and use hand signals to communicate your intention to turn or stop.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Bicycling.com: "Calories Burned Cycling Calculator"
- ExRx.net: "Exercise Calories Burned Calculator"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition"
- University of Utah: "Mountain Biking Safety"
- Purdue University: "Cycling Safety Tips for Springtime"
- Michigan State University: "Bicycle Fitting"