If you’re like two-thirds of American adults, you’re overweight. Half that group is obese, and I certainly got closer at one point than I wanted. I wound up cycling 1 hour a day for weight loss, and I did it every single day (except Sunday’s of course). I discovered quite a few benefits and advantages along the way, and I’d like to share them with you today. Hopefully, you’ll find something in all this that inspires you to adopt the same kind of lifestyle or recommit to older efforts. It helps on any kind of bike, but I personally love my gravel bike and ride it religiously on both fast road sections and also in the magical woods near my home.
Committing to cycling 1 hour per day for weight loss is a great way to either start losing some weight or step up your current efforts into high gear (pun intended). Consider the case of an 180-pound cyclist. He or she enjoys the freedom and everchanging scenery at a moderate intensity, meaning he or she is burning about 650 calories an hour. If they ride six days each week for a whole year, then they will burn more than 200,000 calories. I know you’re thinking that’s a big number, and it is, but what’s more amazing is that translates to nearly 60 pounds of unwanted fat done and gone!
Regular cycling does more for you than just burning off weight, however. When you are a routine rider, your mood is improved, you have better focus, and you improve your sense of wellness and health. Some of that is attributable to the actual weight loss, and some to the exercise, but these two things reinforce each other, which means you’re creating a positive reversal of the downward spiral that first took you into unwanted weight gain in the first place. The more you feel happy, or at least calm, then the less likely you are to go binge on unhealthy foods or treat yourself to treats. You can still enjoy chocolate, of course, but it will be to savor it, not to deal with stress.
I’d like to add that cycling and in my case gravel biking really does wonders for mental health. Apart from the weight loss, getting out in nature, breathing the fresh forest air and seeing new places, things and people all are excellent for maintaining good mental health.
You won’t just burn calories and feel healthier; you’ll actually build up your muscles. That’s great for many reasons. More muscle mass means you are stronger and more fit, but also leaner, so you can be smaller but also more powerful. Muscle tissue also burns more calories than fat tissue does, even when you’re not doing anything. That gives you extra caloric burn after your exercise, but also more calories burned overall. That means that chocolate has even less guilt than before!
Another great thing about cycling one hour daily is that you can typically work that into your daily routine. There’s no need to find the quiet hours at gyms and wait for the right equipment, you don’t even need to pay for gym membership. You can grab your bike and ride when it’s convenient for you, be it in the mornings, the middle of the day, or even the afternoon and evening. Some riders even replace their motorized transportation with it to save money by cycling to work several days a week. If you factor in your time in traffic, you might even find that the bike takes the same time or it might even be quicker!
The number you get on your weighing scales isn’t the only thing that’s going to get better when you incorporate cycling into your lifestyle, because you’re actually going to boost your immune system’s power to fight off infections. Appalachian State University in the state of North Carolina conducted a study that discovered individuals who do aerobic exercise more days than not are nearly less than half as likely to wind up getting sick. If you consider how many hours or days of productivity you lose each year to illness, then you might just discover that the immune-boosting benefits of exercise actually free up the hours you need to go riding in the first place!
Getting out on the bike can do wonders for your social life. The older adults get, the harder it is for them to make friends. Consider that most of the people you meet or deal with on a regular basis are the folks you work with. I know in my case that I don’t want my entire social life to be based around those I already have been around for more than 40 hours a week. You can always ride alone, especially if that’s your thing. However, riding with groups of friends means you can train with others also interested in the same thing. You can learn from one another, motivate each other, and keep each other accountable. If riding becomes fun, you look forward to it instead of dread it like a chore. That means you’re more likely to stick with it, that means more pounds lost.
Modern life has so many stresses and electronics that unplugging mentally and getting a good nights sleep is harder than ever. The University of Georgia looked into this, studying connections between sleep patterns and cardiorespiratory fitness. They discovered among 8,000 subjects whose ages ranged from 20 up to 85 that the less fit they were, the worse their sleep was. So, exhausting yourself on your bike will mean you fall asleep easier and stay that way.
Don’t assume that those extra hours of sleep will eat up your life left, though. Yes, there are only 24 hours in each day, but cycling just one hour per day can give you many more more days. A big study was run in Norway about older men in their 70s and 80s. Those who were exercising even only a half an hour a day lived an average of 5 years longer than those who didn’t.
The best thing about this method of weight loss is that it provides lots of variety so that you can stick with it and that really is the key to sustained weight loss. If you can lose just half a pound a week, within a year you will be down 25 pounds! The reason I say that cycling provides variety is that you can use your bike for your daily boring commute, you can have an exercise bike for those miserable days when you just cannot go outside and then you can have your gravel bike to bring you on all sorts of lovely adventures. In fact just get an indoor bike trainer and your gravel bike can do everything you need (well this is a gravel bike website, what did you expect us to say?).