Cycling is a great way to get in shape and stay in shape. It burns a ton of calories, gets your heart rate and metabolism revved up, and builds muscle. But how do you make outdoor riding safer, and what other options are available to ride if you don’t ever want to be on the road? Here are a few tips on biking for fitness!
Getting Started Guide: Biking for Fitness
1. Calories burned. Below is a chart detailing the calories burned for various cycling activities, with detail regarding the size of the rider.
From the chart above, you can see that both outdoor and indoor cycling have benefits for burning calories. A spin class would fall between “stationary cycling, moderate” and “very vigorous,” as an example. For outdoor riding, I have a computer on my bike that tells me the speed I’m averaging, so I have a good gauge on how hard I’m working based on that.
2. Outdoor or Indoor? Riding outdoors has a lot to offer with respect to joy, fresh air, and working with conditions like wind, rain, terrain, and surface challenges. You also contend with traffic, and that can be daunting to many. One way to navigate the traffic challenge is to choose bike trails instead of roads. Here in Milwaukee there are several, but perhaps the most well known is the Interurban trail, that leads North to South, from Port Washington into Milwaukee. It’s generally flat, although there are some sections that add a bit of challenge, and for the most part, you avoid road traffic, so it’s a bit safer.
If even that sounds like more than you’re looking for, you can try indoor cycling classes. Elite offers cycling classes at all 5 locations, with a number of different instructors. Each will bring their personality to class, and it can be fun and challenging to work in a group setting with the computers to guide your resistance and cadence. Indoors, or out, both are great options for biking for fitness.
3. If you decide on outdoor riding, safety is key. Wear a helmet! Over 6,000 cyclists seek emergency medical care per year due to head injuries, and head trauma accounts for some 75% of riding fatalities. Do yourself a favor, protect your head.
4. Get fitted for your bike. There are different frame sizes for different sized people. When you go to purchase a bike, be sure to step on and try a number of frame sizes. There should be 1-2 inches clearance as you straddle the bike on a hybrid or road bike and 2 inches for mountain bikes.
5. What kind of bike? This really depends on how serious you are about riding outside, and what you plan to do with it. For example, if you have always wanted to do races, triathlons, or serious long rides, a road bike is your best bet. The tires are thinner, the handlebars are lower, and these along with a lighter frame will give you a faster, more aerodynamic ride. If you like riding in a more upright position (as I do), you can still do long distances on a hybrid upright bike. This will have slightly thicker tires, with slightly higher handlebars so your riding posture will be more upright. It’s better if you have back problems, for casual riders, and provides (I think) a more comfortable ride. Mountain bikes have heavier tires with thicker tread to manage trails and rougher riding, so if that’s your style, you might look into that type of bike.
Whatever you decide, have fun riding!
See our full schedule of cycling classes in Milwaukee!
Written by Melissa Abramovich, ACE CPT, NASM CGT, AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist at Elite Sports Club-River Glen
Melissa Abramovich went into Personal Training and Group Exercise instruction after successfully losing 140 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Her desire to help others drove her forward into a career helping others to make healthier choices. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and now also a Medical Exercise Specialist (AAHFRP), helping clients with a myriad of health issues at Elite Sports Clubs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many group exercise related certifications as well.