by Dorian Jones, Dietician
Special to Grouptrails.
Each New Year’s Eve many make the promise to go down a dress size or two, eat less and exercise more. Whether it is for health reasons or for the sake of looking good, it is the desire of over 60% of the American population to lose weight. It is common knowledge that in order to achieve this hefty goal, changes must be made to diet as well as physical activity. When it comes to exercise, the choices are endless. Aerobics is one of the more popular activities for those that want to lose extra pounds. There is low-impact, which includes step aerobics, high-impact, and water. Some will opt to join a pilates or yoga class to get firm. Others will stick to running or walking. And then there’s riding a bike. I know some of you may not have sat on a bicycle seat since you were in junior-high, but in addition to transportation and having fun, cycling is one of the most effective weight loss activities there is, and it carries great benefits for those who want to get fit.
Cycling on a regular basis will:
• Strengthen your heart: Your heart is a muscle, and it needs to be worked to get stronger like any other muscle in your body. Whether you are pumping up a hill or pedaling on flat land, cycling improves your cardiovascular health by forcing your heart to pump a little harder and faster. Your whole body eventually benefits because of the increased circulation of blood to your organs.
• Burn excess fat and calories: Riding your bike will definitely help you burn some fat as well as extra calories. Of course, this depends on how long you ride your bike and how intense your cycle routine is. However, a little bit goes a long way if you are consistent.
• Gain muscle: Thought about lifting weights? How about your own body weight? When you cycle, you are supporting your own weight. The constant motion of pedaling your own weight helps build and strengthen lean muscle, which in turn helps the calorie burning effect even after you stop pedaling. Regular workouts are an important component to getting fit and staying fit.
However, it is wise to seek the opinion of your doctor before you attempt any exercise routine. She can tell you if there are any restrictions to your workout. So, if you have to start out at a slow pace and a do short distance, do not be discouraged. You are at the beginning of your journey to good health which is bound to reward you endlessly.