How biking helps improve your overall health & fitness

How many calories are burned while biking?I love to ride my bike. In my busy schedule, most of my time on a bike happens on my 18-mile (round trip) work commutes, which I try to make time for at least once a week. I figure I bike about 25 miles a week and close to 1,500 a year combined with mountain biking and little trips for work and errands.

I don’t log all the miles, so this isn’t exact science. I’m not encumbered by a ton of analytical gear that measures all the beneficial work I’m doing on my bicycle. I know I’m saving gas money and taking what would be an auto commute (25 minutes) and stretching it into a 40-minute workout. Efficiency is a key to surviving for a busy parent.

To help me figure out how beneficial my bike rides are, the folks at FIX designed an info graphic with plenty of great details on how biking affects the body. The graphic shows many of the health benefits of riding a bike, what happens to your body while riding a bike, and even how to build strength when off the bike.

“If every American made a 4-mile trip by bike instead of by car each week, we’d burn 2 billion fewer gallons of gas annually.”

Gotta love saving fossil fuels — and money too. But the graphic mainly isn’t about how biking helps the environment. There is plenty of great information on the health benefits of cycling:

“Even moderate cycling (12 to 14 mph) can burn more than 500 calories in only 60 minutes … Cycling can bump up metabolism even after the ride is over.”

As I age, I’ve noticed that I can’t finish All Of The Food anymore. My father used to joke “Don’t they feed you up there?” when I’d come home from college and eat everything. I don’t like to waste food, but I’ve certainly learned that I cannot burn it all as fast as I used to and need to have a plan for burning calories if I’m going to enjoy a huge meal.

“Cycling has long been a great alternative for those looking to get fit without the joint pain that can come from higher-impact forms of cardio such as running or walking … Because it is low-impact, cycling is a sport that can be enjoyed for decades. Since it isn’t weight bearing, many people can cycle comfortably well into their 70s and 80s.”

Low impact is the key for me. I’ve had the ACLs in both of my knees reconstructed and now prefer to not accelerate the demise of those joints with high impact sports like soccer, like I did for the first 40 years of my life.

“Riding a bicycle protects your heart by decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease. It protects the heart by lowering blood pressure, and can ramp up the metabolism. It also is shown to increase energy level by 20 percent by decreasing fatigue by 65 percent by releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to energy.”

My recent stress test at work revealed that I could stand to lower my blood pressure. Thus, more time for biking, the elliptical and I’ll be mixing in a few more salads.

Most of that information is easy to digest. But I was particularly impressed with the information about what happens to your body on a bike. The main muscles worked and at what point of each pedal stroke the muscles are being worked. See the FIX article for the full information.

Pedaling a bike

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