Cy­cling is best to lose weight

Rea­sons why a bi­cy­cle is still the best ma­chine to use to help you lose weight and keep it off

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - SELENE YEA­GER

HAV­ING worked as a cer­ti­fied fit­ness trainer for 21 years, I’ve long since come to the con­clu­sion that if you’re look­ing for the best ex­er­cise to shed a few kilo­grams — and keep them off — noth­ing beats cy­cling. Over the years, I’ve seen clients shed half their size and heard from read­ers who have lost more than 45 kg by adding cy­cling to their weight­loss arse­nal, which, yes, must in­clude a healthy diet. (But you al­ready knew that.) So what makes cy­cling so spe­cial? In short, it makes you happy, says Jimmy We­ber, of Enid, Ok­la­homa, who at 1,8 me­tres and 118 kg is not a small rider, but is now 68 kg lighter than his max weight of 186 kg seven years ago. He ini­tially shed weight through bariatric surgery and walk­ing — a lot of walk­ing. But walk­ing his usual 11 kilo­me­tres a day got bor­ing and run­ning was out of the ques­tion.

“I’m too big and the im­pact would dam­age me more than ben­e­fit me,” he says. Although he has a gym mem­ber­ship, he says he has a hard time mak­ing him­self go. The bike, how­ever, is an­other story en­tirely.

We­ber bought his first bike in more than 20 years in 2011 and has clocked more than 32 000 km in the five years that fol­lowed, in­clud­ing numer­ous club and char­ity rides along the way.

“Bike rid­ing is di­verse when it comes to weight man­age­ment,” he says. “You can go hard and fast and burn a lot of carbs, or slow and steady to burn a lot of fat. Plus I would not be as happy if I had to main­tain my weight with diet alone.”

We­ber speaks the truth. In case you need more con­vinc­ing, here’s more great rea­sons why cy­cling rules for weight loss:

• BE­CAUSE IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT EX­ER­CISE

The re­search is pretty con­clu­sive: most peo­ple who ex­er­cise only be­cause they know they should, don’t — at least not for very long. Up to 80% of peo­ple who start ex­er­cis­ing throw in the towel within a year.

The nov­elty quickly wears off and they be­come bored and find things that are more fun to do. But rid­ing a bike makes you feel like a kid. You can go places and ex­plore, pedal through pretty scenery, and feel the fresh air wash over you. You’re not look­ing at the clock will­ing your oblig­a­tory 30 min­utes to go by. You’re en­joy­ing the ride. Oh, and get­ting some ex­er­cise.

• IT’S EASY TO HIT IT HARD, NO MAT­TER YOUR SIZE

Ex­er­cise sci­ence shows that high-in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing (HIIT) is a fast way to boost your fit­ness, rev your me­tab­o­lism, and stim­u­late hu­man growth hor­mone, all of which help you ul­ti­mately fry more fat. There’s no bet­ter place to push those max in­ter­vals than on a bike be­cause there’s zero im­pact, just ef­fort. Just find a quiet stretch of road or path, es­pe­cially if it’s on a bit of an in­cline and go. Push as hard as you can for 10 to 20 sec­onds, go easy for dou­ble that time (so 20 to 40), and re­peat eight times. Rest four or five min­utes and do it again.

• IT’S GEN­TLE ON THE JOINTS

Cy­cling is so gen­tle on your joints it is of­ten rec­om­mended as the ex­er­cise of choice for peo­ple with arthri­tis and other joint ail­ments. You need to be sure you have a proper bike fit, of course. But with the right fit and a good warm-up, you can push the pace with­out stress­ing your hips and knees.

• YOU’LL FIND FRIENDS TO GET FIT WITH

Re­search shows that so­cial sup­port — es­pe­cially hav­ing a work­out buddy or two — dra­mat­i­cally in­creases the like­li­hood that you’ll stick with your rou­tine, and con­sis­tency is key to im­prov­ing your fit­ness and shed­ding un­wanted weight. Cy­cling is such a so­cial sport that, like herds of buf­falo and flocks of geese, there’s even a spe­cial name for a group of us: a pelo­ton. It doesn’t take more than a quick search to find lo­cal cy­cling clubs where you can meet rid­ers of your same fit­ness and abil­ity to pedal with.

• EVEN IN­DOORS CAN BE FUN

Most out­door ac­tiv­i­ties are pretty dread­ful when you bring them in­side (run­ning on a tread­mill). But in­door cy­cling apps like Zwift, Suf­fer­fest, and Trainer-Road, as well as stu­dio cy­cling classes ac­tu­ally make sta­tion­ary cy­cling fun and en­ter­tain­ing. That means you’re less likely to fall out of rou­tine when the weather turns bad.

• YOU CAN DO IT ALL DAY

What else can you do for 160 km? Burn­ing fat was never so much fun as spin­ning along and chitchat­ting with your rid­ing bud­dies for a few hours. Just be smart and limit your snack­ing to about 200 calo­ries an hour and you’ll cre­ate a kilo­gram-shed­ding calo­rie deficit in no time.

• IT CAN FIT SEAM­LESSLY INTO YOUR LIFE

The beauty of bikes is that you can get ex­er­cise while you’re do­ing other things rather than hav­ing to re­serve a chunk of your day to use them for “work­ing out”. By rid­ing your bike to the store, bike com­mut­ing to work, and rid­ing in­stead of driv­ing for other er­rands, you can slip in hours of ac­tiv­ity ev­ery week do­ing the things you’d nor­mally do any­way — and help­ing achieve a healthy weight while you’re at it. — Bi­cy­cling.

Burn­ing fat was never so much fun as spin­ning along and chitchat­ting with your rid­ing bud­dies for a few hours.

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