There are many ways to lose weight nowadays, but cycling is a standout favourite as it allows you to take part in physical exercise, get outdoors and explore fresh surroundings. It is also an amazing way to improve your mental well-being and give you an excuse to sneak out and have some alone time.
Just how many Brits are taking to the road on their bicycles? 42 per cent of the population have access to or own a bicycle. In some parts of central London, cyclists are the kings of the road. According to The Times, cyclists account for 87 percent of traffic on a section of Lambeth Road and 81 percent on Royal Mint Street in the City, with four other locations recording between 55 per cent and 63 per cent. If you’re looking to take up cycling for its health benefits, take a look at simple but sure-fire ways to help you lose weight the right way:
Set realistic goals
The most important first step to losing weight is to choose a healthy target to aim for. The most common basis is your Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a calculation of your size that takes into account your height and weight and tells you whether you fall below under- or over-weight, normal or obese. Since you are training your body to become fitter and use energy more efficiently, it is also worth keeping track of your cycling progress. You can opt to set distance, time or even calorie goals per session, then slowly build up the intensity as you go along. A smartwatch with an accompanying app can help keep track of these and keep you motivated. According to John Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, M.D., M.H.S., tracking likely helps a lot of people when combined with a clear goal to shoot for. In no time, you'll be hitting those BMI and cycling goals.
Make smart nutritional choices
Your body is your vehicle, so watching what you put in your body is equally as important as watching the numbers go down. To get the most out of your cycling sessions, you should be maintaining your blood glucose concentration, and you do this by consuming an adequate amount of food and fluid. Instead of following a fad diet to complement your weight loss plans, WeightWatchers recommend using weight loss programmes that are completely personalised to your specific needs and preferences. No two people are the same so find a plan that makes it easier for you to make healthy food choices. Losing weight should feel celebratory – not like a punishment.
Ride at a moderate pace often
To successfully burn calories, you must ride at a pace that raises your heart rate to approximately 68 and 79 percent of your maximum capacity. Monitoring your smartwatch or fitness tracker while cycling will allow you to keep track of whether or not you’re hitting this. If you want to keep your eyes on the road, aim for a cycling pace that leaves you out of breath while still being able to maintain a conversation. Take note of how this feels for you, as most of your sessions need to be at this level – often referred to as base training.
Cycle to work
One of the amazing things about cycling is that it is also an efficient means of transportation. If you’re finding it challenging to find time to cycle regularly, making little lifestyle changes like including cycling to work gives you the chance to get a regular amount of exercise in the time that you would have spent on the tube. In fact, people who switched from driving or taking public transportation to cycling dropped an average of 7kg (1 stone) over the course of a year when biking 30 minutes each way. As a testament to this, the UK government even recently released word that GPs will start issuing social prescriptions, cycling being one of them, as part of a new trial to improve physical and mental health. This program will be tested in 11 local authority areas like Cornwall, Leeds and Nottingham.
Last and most importantly, enjoy cycling. Whether you prefer a leisure stroll along country roads, an exhilarating zip along mountain bike trails, long unplanned rides on your own or a social ride with friends, there's a lot to find fun in. You'll nearly forget you're exercising while you're doing it.