Cycling Health Benefits - Cycling for Fitness and Weight Loss
Cycling is physical activity where person using bike travel certain distance from point A to point B using his/her own strength and stamina for locomotion. Of course, using stationary bike we don't travel much :o), but burned energy can be great, too.
Cycling health benefits are numerous:
- cycling increases calorie consumption and promotes fat loss
- stronger cardiovascular system - both lungs and heart must supply enough oxygen to muscles and remove carbon dioxide (and other metabolism products) from muscles. This elevates heart rate and promotes heart health - heart is also a muscle, very important muscle :o)
- cycling increases both (mostly lower body) strength and stamina. If you play basketball or similar sports from time to time, your game performance can benefit greatly if you cycle regularly
- cycling appears as lower body exercise, but in fact, entire body is involved, especially when cycling in nature, but it is mostly lower body exercise
- cycling reduces stress since one must be focused on cycling, not on everyday (often stressful) activities
- if you use bike for traveling to and from work, school and similar, you benefit from having exercise and saving money for not traveling with car, for example
- bike is holding your weight and you are using your own power for traveling - great for people with problematic joints and excess weight
Cycling can be done indoors using stationary bike or stationary bike stand, or outdoors using various bikes for various surfaces and other conditions.
Outdoor vs indoor cycling
Cycling outdoors is often impossible during bad weather. Solution is to have stationary bike at home or use one at the gym. Stationary bikes have many benefits:
- they allow you to cycle whenever you want
- they are much safer than ordinary bikes since you are not driving at high speeds and they are much harder to fall down
- most of them have hart rate monitors which is great for anybody under doctors supervision. For example, you have some kind of heart condition and you are allowed to increase heart rate to 90-100 bpm for 15 minutes. Of course, heart rate can be monitored using various heart rate monitors when cycling outside.
- on the other hand, cycling outside, especially in nature is much better stress relief than cycling indoors, although cycling indoors should not be underestimated
Stationary Bike Stand
For people accustomed to cycling outside and for those don't wanting to buy stationary bike, stationary bike stand is great solution.
Stationary bike stand allows using ordinary bike as stationary bike. Depending on the model, you put your back tire on the stand, fix it and you drive your bike as if it is stationary bike. Pros and cons of stationary bike stand:
- it is smaller (easier to store when not in use) and cheaper than full size stationary bike
- high-end models have all features of full sized stationary bikes - heart rate monitors, interval training options, calorie burned calculator etc.
- full size stationary bikes are (usually) more stable, more robust (depending on the model, of course) etc.
If you already have good outdoor bike, but you would like to have option of cycling indoors during bad weather, than consider buying stationary bike stand. If you don't have bike and you are interested in indoor cycling, consider buying full size stationary bike with options according to your preferences.
Interval Training Stationary Bike
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is great way for building strength and stamina and for burning fat long after exercise is over. When cycling outside on uneven terrain, we are actually having HIIT training session - that is why it is much better to cycle or run on uneven terrain for fat loss, muscle gains and fitness in general. When combining high intensity intervals with low(er) intensity intervals, we are stressing body much harder when compared with only low(er) intensity workouts. Also, it is much easier to keep intensity high when cycling hard for 60-90 seconds and resting 60-90 seconds between cycling runs, compared with intensity of cycling for 3-4 minutes with no rests.
HIIT cycling (or any kind of HIIT workouts) is not recommendable for people with cardiovascular or any similar problems. Also, if you are not fit, start slowly and then gradually increase your intervals and intensity...
Stationary bikes are much better for interval training - you are in controlled environment, if your focus decreases and something bad happen, you are not going to fall down from bike running 50 km/h (30 mp/h), you don't have to find uneven terrain for uphill cycling etc.
Of course, this is strictly about interval training - people who like cycling as recreation activity, maybe have stationary bike stand and rest of cycling do outside and don't bother about heart rate, breathing rate etc. For those having cycling as a part of training routine, HIIT cycling is very important workout.
Stationary Bike vs Treadmill
Treadmills and (stationary) bikes have many things in common like heart rate monitors, interval training options, calorie counters etc.
Treadmills can be used for both walking and running, but running in general can be much harder for joints than cycling, no matter how good treadmill is. Also, for many people it is much easier to cycle for 30 minute, than to run for 30 minutes. On the other hand, walking (outside or on treadmill) is not stressful for joints as running (outside or on treadmill) and walking for longer period of time can burn tons of calories (just like cycling).
Good treadmills can be expensive, have more moving parts, are larger and have higher maintenance costs than stationary bikes.
Long story short - if you can, cycle whenever you can or want. Low intensity cycling on even terrain will not burn tons of calories in no time, but if done often and for longer periods can lead to significant fat loss. Also, if you use your bike for going to work or to school, you have multiple benefits - saving some money and having workout at the same time.
If you have any health problems or just to be sure, before starting to exercise, check your health at your doctor - beter safe than sorry ...