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Bike Riding for Weight Loss – Tips for Beginning A Bicycling Plan
If you’re one of those people who rides leisurely around the block or on flat, scenic roads, chances are you’re doing it purely for the enjoyment of the ride. Cycling is a great aerobic exercise. But unless you develop a “push yourself” plan, you probably won’t lose much weight.
I’m really tired of hearing people say, “No pain, no gain!” But when it comes to cycling to lose weight, the old adage holds true. By increasing your distance or speed, you’re bound to feel some soreness in your leg muscles, hands, wrists and hips — and even some soreness in your throat and lungs as your body tries to adjust to the increased oxygen demand.
Health Tip: Stretching before exercise can help prevent injuries!
Get your bike ready…lighten the weight
The first thing you should think about is equipping your bike. If you need an excuse to buy a new bike, this is a great opportunity! I switched from a 3 speed bike for recreational riding to a 24 speed bike for more focused workouts. Once I understand how the different gears work, I really appreciate the extra speed. They make my rides faster and hills easier to manage.
We found the bike shop staff to be very helpful and caring about our unique bike needs. Instead of simply directing us to the most expensive bike (as I expected), they asked how much we were going to ride, whether we wanted speed or leisure, and whether we wanted to ride on asphalt or dirt roads Row. When you share your goals and experience level honestly, a salesperson can match you with what you need. They want you to be successful in your cycling adventures!
Some state laws require bicycle lights. But if you’re going to be riding from dusk to dawn, common sense dictates that your bike must be lighted. These gadgets are battery operated and last for a long time. There are a variety of lights to choose from. My tail lights have different blinking speeds designed to make my bike visible to cars coming from behind and to the side. Check brightness before buying. Install the light in the most suitable position.
We didn’t buy a speedometer and odometer unit for our bikes, but once we got serious about losing weight and getting in shape, this feature became a “must have.” You can’t track your progress without knowing how far and how fast you’ve ridden.
If you already have a bike, take it to a bike shop every season for a safety inspection. They should check the gears, tires and brakes to make sure everything is in order. They can adjust your seat to fit your height and handlebars to fit your range of motion for a more comfortable ride. If you’re lucky, they’ll 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. Knowing how to change your own flat tire and adjust a loose chain is always a good idea.
Another must-have is a bike pump. Ask your bicycle dealer how many pounds of air pressure your bicycle tires should hold. Check your tires every time you are ready to ride! One summer day, we guessed the air pressure and regretted it. We rode our bikes to the pool not realizing one tire was too full. As we cooled off in the water, the hot sun rapidly inflated the air in the tires—one blew while parked in a parking lot. The days in the sun were not that fun and once the pool was closed we had to wait for the truck to haul us home!
Health Tip: Talk to your doctor first and get his or her approval before you increase your rate of physical activity!
Stay comfortable on your bike
Sitting in a bike seat for long periods of time can cause pain, discomfort, and even serious circulation problems for the avid cyclist. At your local bike shop, you’ll find a variety of bike seats designed for your comfort and fitness. The salesperson at our local bike shop encouraged us to try out the new seat on the bike for a few days. My husband found the split seat more comfortable for himself, while I chose to keep my old gel seat. Someone even invented a seat that looks more like a bird’s nest than a bicycle seat!
Health Tip: Get out of your bike seat and walk around every 25 minutes or so to get blood flowing to the important unspoken parts of your body.
Think about your clothing…you don’t have to be wearing padded biker shorts and special clothes to start cycling. In fact, there are some scientifically engineered fabrics that wick sweat away from your body in the summer and keep you from hypothermia in the winter. But for now, just throw on a few layers of comfortable activewear.
Make sure your clothing isn’t so tight that it’s hard for you to pedal. But they also shouldn’t be so loose that they catch on the bike chain! If you get too hot, peel off a layer. Add another layer if you feel cold. Wear light or brightly colored clothing so drivers can easily see you.
Having a little rack on the back of the bike really helps. Mine looks like a little rack on the rear tire. It has two bungee cords to keep any cargo securely attached to the bike. I use it for a small picnic cooler, a shopping bag, or spare clothes.
I had the bike shop install a water bottle holder on my bike under the seat. I can take a quick sip while riding, or pour some water on my pulse points to cool myself down. Take sips of water when you need to while cycling, not gulps.
Helmets are almost a must. Life is full of dangers – and cycling has its risks. Be smart. Wear a helmet. You can buy a cool mirror for your helmet. Rearview mirrors help you know when it is safe to turn and allow you to see vehicles approaching from behind.
I recommend wearing sunglasses – both sun protection and insect repellent! At certain times of the year, the air is filled with flying insects. Having tiny bugs in the eye is a painful thing. For this reason, for contact lens wearers, carry a contact lens case and lens cleaner when cycling. One day you’ll be glad you did!
Health Tip: Shake your hands down frequently to get the blood flowing and prevent pain or numbness in your arms and hands.
Create a weight loss plan
You’ll need to log your daily meals and food intake, your weekly weight measurements and weight, and the miles and times you cycle.
The website http://www.OpenFitness.net is a great way to track your progress. It’s very easy to use – just enter the information you wish to track. As the only community fitness website of its kind, you’ll find it a great motivational tool with printable charts and graphs to show your progress over the course of a few days, a week or a month!
It tracks your food, vitamin and supplement intake. Experts have analyzed thousands of foods for their calorie, fat, carbohydrate and protein counts. You simply select the foods you eat from the drop-down function and the system calculates your total daily intake for you. Make sure you don’t exercise right after you eat or near mealtime. Both times will slow you down.
No matter how embarrassing it is, measure your arms, legs, chest, waist, neck, hips, and thighs once a week. The software tracks your weight and body measurements. The thrill of seeing those same inches disappear over the next few weeks will be worth it. Looking at the charts, it’s especially impressive!
Consider purchasing an instrument that actually measures body fat — there are cheap clamp-type instruments that measure fat by pinching you, or a set of bathroom scales that cost more but calculate body fat fairly painlessly.
Try to ride 4-6 days a week. When you create a weight loss plan, your short-term goals will change with you. You’ll quickly develop endurance for longer distances. As fat turns into muscle, your speed increases. Every week, try to increase your mileage or your speed.
By now you know how far you can ride. Start recording the exact route you took, total mileage and time spent. Document special circumstances in your records. Is it getting dark outside so you’re forced to cut short your trip? Did the road crew dump a layer of gravel on your normally paved road?
how is the weather? Is it dangerously hot? Is it windy? The wind can be your friend or your enemy. When the wind is behind you, your ride is a breeze…but from any other direction, get ready to blow and blow. Consider any time a good job, just get the ride done!
Finally, add 3 upper body workouts per week. Cycling works your legs, but to get the rest of your body strong and lean, you need to work your upper body too. Created by certified personal fitness trainers, the http://www.openfitness.net website has great features that you can also use to design and track this part of your fitness program.
Cycling is a fun, inexpensive form of cardio — and it’s good for every part of you. But be warned – you’re going to need to buy a whole new wardrobe for the slimmer, more toned figure that emerges!
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