Riding a bicycle is not only fun, but it's also an excellent form of aerobic exercise. A regular routine of cycling at least 30 minutes a day will assist with weight loss and help keep you in shape. You can achieve numerous health benefits through daily cycling, such as cardiovascular fitness, improved heart health and improved muscle strength and tone. Of course, once you do the work to get fit, you should cover enough daily cycling distance to stay in shape.
Perform a minimum of 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise to stay in shape or increase your output to 30 to 45 minutes a day for weight loss and even greater health benefits.
Health Benefits of Cycling
Health.gov recommends that adults age 18 to 64 need at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week to achieve and maintain good physical fitness. You can also double that amount to five hours, cycling at least 30 to 45 minutes a day for weight loss and other health benefits, or increase the intensity of your aerobic activity during those 2 1/2 hours. Adding strength training at least twice a week is also recommended. You can cover your daily cycling distance outdoors or use a stationary bicycle at home or at a gym.
Gauging Your Intensity
When you go cycling, you should ride vigorously enough to raise your heart rate to a level that builds cardiovascular fitness. The "talk test" is a good indicator of how challenging the workout is. If your goal is to work at a moderate intensity, you should be able to talk but not sing or carry on a conversation too easily while exercising. If you want a more intense workout, you should be able to just barely get a few words out as you're cycling (and you definitely won't be able to sing!).
Another gauge of your exercise intensity is your heart rate. When you start out, aim for a heart rate of 40 percent to 50 percent of your maximum heart rate or MHR. Over time, work up to a heart rate close to 70 percent of your MHR. Once you are in shape, ride fast enough as you complete your daily cycling distance to maintain that heart rate.
Cycling for Weight Loss
For many people, staying in shape means keeping the extra weight they have lost from returning. Cycling burns a lot of calories and so helps control weight. Counting the calories you burn cycling along with those you eat is a useful way to stay on track. The calories you burn cycling 30 minutes a day depend on your weight, how fast you ride and how long you ride.
For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you burn about 354 calories an hour riding 10 to 11.9 mph. A 180-pound person will burn 490 calories per hour at that cycling speed. At 14 to 15.9 mph and a weight of 130 pounds, you burn 590 calories, and a 180-pound rider burns 817 calories per hour. For weight management, how much you should cycle every day depends on how many calories you want to burn each week.
Tips to Reduce Risk
Part of staying in shape is keeping the risk of injury to a minimum. Cycling 30 minutes a day strengthens leg muscles and your cardiovascular system, but provides only limited exercise for your upper body. You can achieve better physical fitness and lower the chances of injury with upper body strength training.
It is also important to ride with your back arched and with good form. Your bike should be the proper size and adjusted to your height and body proportions. That way, you minimize stress and reduce the chances of an injury.