The Case For Using A Bike To Burn Calories
When you’re searching for a good way to bump up the ‘calories out’ part of the ‘calories in…calories out’ equation, cycling is an excellent option.
Here’s why. Four of the simplest and most effective ways to burn calories are walking, running, swimming, and cycling. Of course, they each have their advantages and disadvantages, but it’s my contention that cycling for weight loss is unique in a few very positive ways.
Without getting too technical, cycling combines the smooth, impact-free large muscle movements of swimming without having to find a ‘body of water’ to exercise in…and unlike walking (which is usually on the ‘light to medium’ side of exertion), you can really turn up the calorie furnace on a bike once your fitness level increases. And then there is running. But for a lot of us, there’s too much shock involved in running to make it a viable option.
So how many calories can you count on burning when you’re on your bike? Like many irritating answers in life…’it depends’. Boy, I hate an answer like that.
I have a sophisticated power meter on my bike that measures how many watts of power I’m putting out at any given instant, how fast I’m going, my pedal cadence, my heart rate, how many calories I’ve burnt on the ride, and a host of other pieces of data that I’ve convinced myself are critical to my bike rides. It’s overkill. What we need for an article like this isn’t more gadgetry; just some straightforward, ‘ballpark figures’ of calories burnt while bike riding. So here goes…
How Many Calories Does Cycling Burn?
All the following estimates will be for one hour of cycling… on flat ground, and with no prevailing wind.
If you weigh 155 lbs and go ‘leisurely’, you’ll burn about 280 calories. For increments of 25 lbs up or down from that weight, you can add or subtract 50 calories per 25 lbs. As an example, you’ll burn about 320 calories if you weigh 180 lbs and about 370 if you weigh 205 lbs and ride at a leisurely pace.
If you weigh 155 lbs and bump up your average speed to 12-14 mph, you’ll burn just short of 565 calories. You can make similar accommodations for different body weights at the 12-14 mph level of exertion, with increments of 90 calories inserted per 25 lbs (i.e. 654 calories burned if you’re 180 lbs and 744 calories if you weigh 205 lbs).
If you weigh 155 lbs and go 14-16 lbs, you’ll burn about 705 calories, with a gain or loss of about 115 calories per 25 lb increment of body weight. As an example, that would be 820 calories expended per hour of cycling at 14-16 mph if you weigh 180 lbs. No one’s talking about it, but I’m pretty sure there’s a substantial calorie expenditure just trying to figure out the formula.
Riding Your Bike Indoors
Earlier in this article, I alluded to several advantages of riding a bike to burn up calories. But there’s a downside to cycling which hits hardest when the weather turns cold. I’m referring to the wind-chill that a bike generates. When it’s cold outside, and you can count on generating a 12-14 mile per hour headwind due to your own speed, riding loses much of its appeal. That’s where a bike trainer comes in handy.
I attach my bike to a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine and get a good workout indoors when I don’t have the resolve to combat Father Winter.
A bike trainer doesn’t take much room in the house (unlike a treadmill, or stair stepper), enables me to not have to go to a gym to get in a workout, allows my bike to multi-task, and is a perfect tool for triumphing over the elements.
All in all, cycling is an excellent way to burn calories, which is essential to maximizing your weight loss campaign. And with a little bit of ingenuity, you can transform it into a year-round form of exercise, no matter how strong the winds are howling outside.
This guest post was written by Ron Fritzke, a cycling product reviewer and a former 2:17 marathoner.