Bike Riding for Exercise

Male Off-Roading on a Bike

Bike riding for exercise is one of the best ways to improve cardiovascular health, strengthen your muscles, and lose weight. All of these benefits are possible without the pounding on your knee and hip joints that other forms of road exercise may cause. Cycling is a very popular sport as it can be tailored for any fitness level. Go bike riding alone, in a group, or as a family; it is fun indoors or out.

Calories Burned

Cycling will burn approximately 400 to 700 calories per hour, depending on the cyclist's weight, metabolism, and intensity of the ride. Bike riding for exercise is a great way to lose weight. Riding your bike four to six days a week will maximize weight loss. Increase the intensity of your workout by planning your ride to include hills and burn more calories.

Strengthening Muscles

Bike riding for exercise builds all the muscles in the lower body, including your abdominals. Cycling will strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. Bike riding is gentler on your knee and hip joints than other sports like jogging or tennis. The more hills you climb on your ride, the more you will strengthen the leg muscles.

Strengthens Cardiovascular System

Bike riding is an aerobic activity, which means the heart and lungs work harder to move air and blood throughout your body. As a result, the heart and lungs will both become stronger and healthier.

Equipment Needed

Cycling can be a strenuous activity in which you will sweat. Replace fluid loss by drinking water throughout your ride, whether it is indoors or out.

Outdoor Cycling

Serious cyclists spend thousands of dollars on bicycles and gear; however, a beginner can start riding on a very small budget. The essential equipment to begin cycling outdoors is a bike and a helmet. The bicycle should be comfortable enough to cycle for at least 45-minutes. This may mean spending at least a couple hundred dollars on a decent bike or searching for a used one for less. Fit your bike and helmet with a professional to make sure it is the correct size.

Indoor Cycling

Enjoy an indoor ride at home or in a gym on a recumbent bicycle. Many gyms have indoor cycling classes led by an instructor. These motivate with music and a party atmosphere. The classes generally last an hour and the instructor will guide you through a simulated bike ride, up and down hills, so you get a very realistic heart-pumping workout. The only type of equipment you might need for indoor cycling at a gym is a bicycle seat pad or cycling shorts with built in pads. Serious indoor cyclist will often purchase clipless cycling shoes.

Recommended Gear for Serious Outdoor Cyclists

Serious cyclists should consider buying the following:

  • Speedometer
  • Odometer
  • Cushioned bike seat
  • Small bicycle pump and patch kit
  • Bike lock
  • Padded bike shorts
  • Headlight
  • Fanny pack for extra gear
  • Riding shoes
  • Water bottle and attached holder

Bike Riding for Exercise Safely

Riding safety is a major concern for outdoor cyclists. Wearing an ANSI approved bicycle helmet correctly is extremely important. Make sure it fits and is buckled on properly so it won't fly off in an accident. A headlight and reflectors are critical so cars can see the rider at night or on cloudy days. Ride as far right and close to the curb as possible, to avoid being hit by a car. Learn traffic signals and obey all traffic laws. Consider wearing sunscreen and sunglasses when cycling outdoors to protect skin and eyes from the sun.

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Bike Riding for Exercise