(I’m sorry it had to be done)
After the monumental success Bradley Wiggins has achieved over the last year, cycling has seemingly never been so popular. It’s finally finding its way into the mainstream as a popular sport, not just for serious athletes, but for the more casual fan too. I for one am thrilled by this. Not because I’m a cycle fanatic (I don’t even own a bike), but because I’m a big believer in fitness diversity and for me, the more options the better! If you have read my previous articles on trampolining, running and golf, you’ll know this. This month the focus is on cycling…
One of the great things about using cycling as a fitness tool, is that while you can use different training methods (such as interval training), because you are covering substantially more ground than during a run, the natural landscape will cover all the bases for you. You don’t need to purposefully go out and find a hill or to programme a stop watch that goes off every couple of minutes. Throughout the course of a cycle ride, you will come across several hills and natural points that force you to vary the intensity of the ride. I’m based in Birmingham and although not necessarily obvious whilst driving a car, but we have a lot of ‘hills’ here!
Let us analyse the figures a little bit. Riding at a leisurely pace for an hour can burn between 200 and 400 calories (depending on your weight). Which means; taking the kids down to the park on the bikes can be a very effective calorie burner for you and an enjoyable energy sapper for the kids. Now if you want to increase your calorie output, as with more fitness activities, you simply need to go harder, faster and longer. It really is the simple. Averaging a speed of 15 mile per hour can burn 600-900 calories for the hour!
Victoria Pendleton (yes her of Strictly Dancing fame for those of you who slept through the Olympics) has said that she would be scared to cycle in London, and if you’re anything like me, you might feel the same way about any big city. Don’t let this stop you. There are plenty of options for the city dweller. For example, Birmingham has the Rea Valley Cycle route that stretches through Cannon Hill Park and is just over 8 miles (13 kilometres), start to finish. And if that doesn’t get you motor revving (I’m sure there’s an actual cycle expression out there somewhere), you could always stay inside…
Stationary bikes are a great way of experiencing the benefits of cycling, without the risks of traffic. Of course, you can’t use the landscape, so to avoid potential boredom you might want to invest in that stop watch you didn’t need earlier, or position the bike in view of a TV.
Whatever and however you try it, be safe, have fun and stay clean.