If you’ve got a couple of lockdown pounds to lose then regular cycling is an effective, time efficient and low effort way to lose weight.
Introducing small amounts of exercise into your daily life is the easiest way to lose weight and riding your bike to work or the shops is a simple way to do it.
Lockdown has not been kind to the nation’s waistline with the BBC reporting that 48% of people have put on weight. Staying home was important for everyone’s health but gaining weight does us no favours at all, hence the new NHS advert entreating us to get moving.
Whilst obesity related conditions have been linked with greater risk of complications if you contract Covid-19 you don’t have to be obese to benefit from losing a little body fat. Reducing the fat you carry, particularly fat from around your waistline, will put you at reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. It can also lower blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels.
Two-thirds of journeys made by vehicle are under 5-miles, an easy distance to cycle. Swapping your car for your bike is a great way to introduce a little bit of extra exercise and movement into your life without cutting into your free time. Research from the University of East Anglia and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research showed that people who switched to cycling from driving or public transport lost on average 7kg/1stone over the course of a year when riding 30 minutes each way. The great thing about a 5-mile journey in 30-minutes is that you do not need to be super-fit to accomplish it. The pace is leisurely and comfortable so you don’t arrive at work hot and sweaty, or starving hungry!
An hour of cycling a day will burn roughly 500 calories but there is an advantage to splitting it into two different exercise sessions. Riding your bike morning and evening helps to keep your body’s metabolic rate slightly elevated, so you are burning calories faster even at rest. The trick to weight loss is being in calorie deficit and the easiest way of achieving this is by eating less and moving more. Increasing your activity levels naturally makes you feel hungrier but the advantage of just a thirty minute cycle is it won’t leave you ravenous, so you will be less tempted to reward yourself with an unhealthy snack. However, it is wise to ensure you have some fresh fruit and a yoghurt or handful of nuts on hand for when you get to work, so you feel full and satisfied until lunchtime.
If you are already a regular cyclist, but you don’t commute by bike, then you are missing a trick! Riding to work allows you to increase your weekly cycling volume without requiring much more extra time. You can use these short rides as easy recovery sessions after your more purposeful training sessions or, depending on the route, an opportunity to do some specific sprint or interval efforts.
Getting fit doesn’t have to mean going to the gym or serious training sessions, something as simple as a daily bike ride to work or the shops can make a huge difference to your health, fitness and waist line.