Everywhere you look, people are jumping on the bicycle bandwagon. It’s no surprise, given the thousands of miles of new bicycle lanes in cities across the United States and the environmental benefits. But riding a bike is good for more than saving the planet and your hard-earned cash. Bicycling is a great way to see the outdoors, take in the fresh air, or simply get around town. It’s also an efficient way to burn excess calories, shed body fat and improve cardiovascular health. Here’s how it can make you a lean, fat-burning machine…
It Torches Calories
A 135-pound woman pedaling 12 to 14 miles an hour blasts 488 calories in 60 minutes.
You Can Do It On The Go
Half of American workers live within five miles of their workplace, according to the most recent National Household Transportation Survey. That’s a totally doable 20-minute ride each way. If you live close to your office, you can pedal to work twice a week and burn up to 3,000 extra calories — close to one pound of fat — each month.
It Boosts Energy
A study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomaticsfound that bike riding improved energy levels by 20 percent and decreased fatigue by 65 percent. Why? Cycling triggers your brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to energy, says lead author Patrick O’Connor, Ph.D., a professor of kinesiology at the University of Georgia at Athens.
Every Muscle Feels It
Find a hill that takes three to 10 minutes to climb, suggests Rebecca Rusch, a world-champion mountain bike racer. Ride up two or three times, spending roughly half the time pedaling out of the saddle. Pedaling while standing engages your core and triceps as you stabilize your body over the bike.
It Protects Your Ticker
Heart disease is the number-one killer of women in this country, and two top risk factors are high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol. In one study, researchers had 32 women ride at a moderate to high intensity three times a week for at least half an hour.
Look for: Thin tires, a lightweight frame, and features like adjustable brake levers for smaller hands and a wider saddle with a cutout to relieve pressure on soft girl-part tissues.
Ride smart: To get the most body benefits, try intervals. In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, participants increased their endurance and power by alternating 10-second intervals of super-hard pedaling with 20 seconds of easy-effort spinning.
In time, cycling will help you to feel stronger, leaner and more positive about your body. If you continue with daily activity and healthful eating, a better body is a sure thing.