Everyone knows that carrying too much weight around your waistline is bad for your health. Even if you’re not overweight, a waist circumference over 40 inches for men, and 35 inches for women means you’re more at risk of heart disease.
You’re also more likely to suffer from high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. If you’re carrying more belly fat than you’d like, you may want to know how to get rid of it.
Exercise can help you burn calories, which can help you lose weight. If you own a bike, this fact might tempt you to take yours out of the shed and start riding again. You might be wondering, can you lose belly fat by cycling?
In this article, we’ll cover if you can lose belly fat by cycling, how to do so, and some other benefits of cycling.
Can cycling help you lose belly fat?
It’s easy to think that you will lose belly fat by strengthening your core. If this is you, stop the endless crunches! Core exercises are great for making your abs stronger, but they do little to nothing to remove any fat from the area.
To burn belly fat, you’ll have to burn more calories, and the best way to do this is cardio. Cycling can help you burn calories, as long as you stick to a higher duration, lower intensity training style.
This means keeping to a pace that you can hold on to for a longer period. You won’t burn as much energy on shorter, high-intensity training.
You can burn anywhere from 400 to 1000 calories every hour on your bike. This depends on your weight, height, and the effort you’re putting in exercising.
Cycling can also increase your metabolism by growing muscle mass. Pushing the pedals is a form of resistance training, which can help you build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Having more muscle overall can help you keep fat off your middle.
Cycling can be great for losing belly fat, however, don’t expect miracles. If you have a lot of fat to lose, this will take time. Start slowly, and work your way up to cycling a few times a week. If you’re consistent, you should see results, as long as you put in the effort.
Is cycling good for physical health?
Other than keeping the fat off, cycling has a lot of health benefits. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week.
Just 30 minutes a day spent cycling can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Cycling also has other physical benefits, like improving your balance and coordination.
If you can’t run for a medical reason, cycling could be a great way for you to get your daily exercise. Running can aggravate bad knees or past injuries, and if you’re more than 20 pounds overweight, it isn’t the best exercise to jump straight into.
Cycling is gentler on the body, as it doesn’t put stress on your joints like running can. Most people can ride their bikes longer and faster than if they were to run. If you suffer from painful joints or want a gentler form of exercise, give cycling a try.
Is cycling good for mental health?
Cycling has also been found to improve mental health. Physical activity can improve your mood, help you sleep better, and reduce stress levels. As you exercise, endorphins and mood-enhancing chemicals like serotonin are released.
These help you feel more positive, happy, and content. Cycling can also help you get outside and be around nature. Just being in the open air can do wonders for your mood.
Cycling with others can help your mental health, as you improve your social life. This can also make it an easier habit to stick to, as you have someone to keep you accountable.
How to lose belly fat by cycling
It’s clear that cycling has a ton of benefits, as well as losing belly fat. So, how do you start in the first place?
First things first, safety. If you’re buying a new bike, make sure that you can reach the pedals and handles well. Don’t buy without taking a test ride. If you’re using an old bike, check that the lights, reflectors, and brakes are all functioning well.
In the US, the requirement to wear a bike helmet varies in each jurisdiction. Before setting out, check the rules where you live.
After the safety checks, you’ll want to find a training plan. Training intensity will depend on your unique fitness levels and goals. If you’re a total beginner, don’t try to do too much, too soon.
You don’t need to do 30 minutes a day just yet. Start by getting out there. Try 5-10 minutes and see how you feel. If you’re comfortable with that, slowly increase the time.
If you can do a 30-minute ride pretty easily, here are some things you should know before starting.
- Decide if you want to challenge yourself for a month, 2 months, or 3. Slowly increase the duration of your rides over the challenge period. If you start with 30 minutes, increase the time by 15 minutes each week.
- Be consistent! Set yourself a goal of riding 3-4 times a week and stick to it. If you miss a day for whatever reason, don’t be hard on yourself, but make sure you go out the next day.
- Make sure that you’re fueled properly for your rides. Before you set out on your bike, fill up a water bottle to take with you. Drinking water will keep your body hydrated while you ride. You might want to take some energy bars with you, so your carbohydrate stores aren’t depleted. Just remember that if you want to lose belly fat, you will have to be in an energy deficit. It’s easy to eat one too many of these bars, so make sure that any snacks you have are within your calorie limits.