If you’re one of those people who calmly pedal around the block or on a flat stretch of a scenic highway, you’ve probably been driving for sheer pleasure. Riding a bike for pleasure is a good form of aerobic exercise. But unless you make a plan to “push yourself,” you probably won’t lose much weight.
I really get tired of hearing people say, “No pain, no gain!” But the old adage holds true when it comes to riding a bike to lose weight. By increasing your distance or cycling speed, you are sure to feel some pain in the muscles of your legs, hands, wrists, and butt, even some pain in your throat and lungs as your body tries to adjust to its greatest. oxygen demand.
HEALTH TIP: Stretching before exercising is helpful in preventing injury!
PREPARING YOUR BIKE … TO LOWER WEIGHT
Your first concern will be to equip your bike. If you need an excuse to buy a new bike, this is a great opportunity! I went from a 3-speed bike for pleasure riding, to a 24-speed bike for a more engaged workout. Once I learned how the different gears worked, I was very grateful for the extra speeds. They make my ride quicker and the hills so much easier to handle.
We found the guys at the bike shop to be very helpful and care about our unique cycling needs. Rather than just heading for the most expensive bike available (as I expected), they asked how far we would ride, if we were trying for speed or leisure, and if we would ride on paved roads or dirt trails. When you honestly share your goals and level of expertise, salespeople can find exactly what you need. They want you to be successful on your bike adventure!
Some state laws require bicycle lights. But if you’re going to be driving anytime from dusk to dawn, common sense demands that you have lights on your bike. These little accessories are battery powered and last a long time. There are a variety of lights to choose from. My taillight has different blink rates and is designed so that my bike is visible to cars approaching both from the rear and from the sides. Check the brightness before buying one. Install the light where it makes the most sense.
We stopped buying a speedometer and odometer unit for our bikes, but once we got serious about losing weight and getting fit, this feature became a “must have.” You simply cannot track your progress without knowing how far and how fast you are driving.
If you already have a bike, take it to the bike shop for a safety inspection every season. They should check the gears, tires, and brakes to make sure everything is working properly. They can adjust their seat to suit their height and adjust the handlebars to fit their reach, making your ride more comfortable. If you’re lucky, they can even clean and polish your bike!
If you want to save money in the long run, you can find books and videos that teach you how to take care of your own bike. It is always a great idea to know how to change your own flat tire and adjust a loose chain.
Another must-have is a bicycle pump. Ask your bike dealer how many pounds of air pressure to put on your bike tires. Check your tires every time you prepare to ride! We guess air pressure on a summer day and live to regret it. We cycled to the pool, not realizing that one of the tires was too full. While we were cooling off in the water, the hot sun rapidly expanded the air in the tires – a tire exploded while in the parking lot. The day in the sun wasn’t so much fun, once the pool was closed and we had to wait for a truck to take us home.
HEALTH TIP: Talk to your doctor first and get his blessing before increasing your pace of physical activity!
COMFORTABLE TO STAY ON YOUR BIKE
Sitting for long periods of time in a bicycle seat can cause pain, discomfort, and even serious blood circulation problems in avid cyclists. At your local bike shop, you will find a variety of bike seats made specifically for your comfort and health. Vendors at our local bike shop encouraged us to try out new seats on our bikes for a few days. My husband found that the split seat was more comfortable for him, while I opted to keep my old gel seat. Someone has even invented seats that look more like a bird perch than a bike seat!
HEALTH TIP: Get up from the bike seat and walk about every 25 minutes so that the blood flow reaches important and unspeakable parts of your body.
Think about your clothes … you don’t need to have padded motorcycle shorts and special clothing to get started riding your bike. Actually, there are scientifically designed fabrics to remove sweat from the body in the summer and prevent hypothermia in the winter. But for now, just wear layers of comfortable sportswear.
Make sure your clothes are not so tight that you feel miserable trying to pedal. But they also shouldn’t be loose enough to get tangled in the bike chain! If it overheats, remove a layer. If you’re cold, add a layer. Use light or bright colors to allow drivers to see you easily.
It really helps to have a little rack on the back of your bike. Mine looks like a little shelf above the rear tire. It has two elastic cords to keep the load securely attached to the bike. I’ve used it to carry a small cooler, a shopping bag, or extra clothes.
I had the bike shop put a water bottle holder on the bike under my seat. I can have a quick drink while driving or pour some water over my pulse points to cool off a bit. Take small sips of water when needed during your bike ride, rather than gulping down large gulps.
A helmet is almost essential. Life is full of dangers and cycling has its part. Be smart. Wear a helmet. You can buy a cool rear view mirror for your helmet. The mirror helps you see when it is safe to turn and allows you to observe traffic coming from behind.
I recommend wearing sunglasses, both for the sun and for insects! At certain times of the year, the air is full of flying insects. Having a small bug in the eye is a painful event. For contact lens wearers, take a contact lens case and lens cleaner with you on bike rides for the same reason. Someday you’ll be glad you did!
HEALTH TIP: Shake hands down frequently to get blood flow and to avoid pain or numbness in arms and hands.
EXECUTE A WEIGHT LOSS PLAN
You will need to keep track of your diet and daily food intake, your weekly body measurements and weight, as well as your miles and cycling time.
The http://www.OpenFitness.net website is a great way to track your progress. It is very easy to use, just enter the information you want to track. As the only fitness community website of its kind, you will find it to be a fantastic motivational tool that will print out charts and graphs to show how much progress you have made in a few days, a week, or a month.
Track your food, vitamin, and supplement intake. Experts have already analyzed thousands of foods to determine the amount of calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein. Just select the foods you ate from a drop down function and the daily total will be counted for you. Make sure you don’t exercise when you finish eating or when it is almost time to eat. Both times they will delay you.
No matter how humiliating it is, measure your arms, legs, chest, waist, neck, hips, and thighs once a week. The software keeps track of your weight and body measurements. The thrill of seeing those same inches disappear in the next few weeks will be worth the effort. It is especially impressive viewed as a graphic!
Consider investing in an instrument that actually measures body fat; inexpensive caliper-type instruments are available that measure fat by pinching it, or buy a set of bathroom scales that cost more but calculate body fat painlessly.
Try to ride 4-6 days a week. When you map out your weight loss plan, your short-term goals will change as you change. You will quickly develop endurance for longer distances. As fat turns into muscle, your speed will increase. Each week, try to increase your mileage or speed.
You know how far you’ve been able to go so far. Start keeping track of the exact route you are taking, the total mileage and the time it took. Take notes in your records for special circumstances. Was it dark outside and were you forced to cut your trip short? Did highway personnel dump a layer of gravel on your normally paved road?
How was the weather? Was it dangerously hot? It was windy? The wind can be your friend or your enemy. When the wind is behind you, your journey is a breeze … but coming from any other direction, be prepared to huff and puff. Accept any length of time as a job well done and just go on the journey!
Finally, add an upper body workout three times a week. Riding a bike exercises your legs, but for the rest of your body to be firm and fit, you will also need to exercise your upper body. The website http://www.openfitness.net, created by a certified personal fitness trainer, has great features that allow you to design and track this part of your fitness program as well.
Riding a bike is a fun and inexpensive form of aerobic exercise; it’s good for every part of you. But be warned – you’ll have to buy a whole new wardrobe for the slimmest, most beautifully shaped body to emerge!