Cycling fitness

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There‘s debate aplenty about the pros and cons of cycling, but one thing‘s incontrovertible: riding regularly is good for you. Here‘s eight reasons why you should travel the capital by bicycle

  • 1. For a ten-stone woman, an hour of steady cycling (11mph) burns around 380 calories – the amount of energy supplied by a Mars bar or a pint and a half of beer. A 15-minute bike ride to and from work, five times a week, can burn off the equivalent of 11lbs of fat in a year.

    2. According to a Department of Transport study, people who don’t exercise but start cycling can, in just three months, move from the third of the population who are least fit into the fittest half.

    3. Worried about traffic fumes? There’s no need to be. A Department of the Environment report found that cyclists and pedestrians actually absorb fewer pollutants than car drivers.

    4. In terms of energy expended, cycling 20 miles at a reasonably vigorous 15mph is the equivalent of running 5.7 miles. Both burn 620 calories.

    5. Hunching over the handlebars is a common cause of lower back pain among regular riders, exacerbated by weak trunk muscles. If you’re a gym-goer, ask a trainer to help you with a Swiss ball routine targeting your obliques, anterior abdominal and lower lumbar muscles.

    6. You cycle regularly, you feel really fit, but you can’t shift your gut. Why? Because the fat burned during cardio-vascular activity (like cycling) comes from all over the body, not just one area. ‘Selective’ fat loss is impossible. Instead, try abdominal exercises to firm up your stomach and make your gut less prominent.

    7. Off-road cycling can be a real fitness challenge. You’re out of the saddle more, giving your glutes (bum) and leg muscles a good workout, while the core muscle groups in your upper body have to work harder to maintain balance.

    8. Cycling has been one of Britain’s most successful Olympic sports in recent years. If you’d like to try some low-level competition for yourself, the website www.londoncyclesport.com carries details of events in London and the south-east plus useful information for novices.

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4 comments
jools
jools

If you would like to cycle more but are afraid to, consider contacting your borough council or check their website as they often offer subsidised cycle training. Even if you are a regular commuter you should consider having a lesson to fine tune your riding and iron out any bad habits. Alternatively, have a private cycle lesson, go to the CTC website which has a list of accredited instructors in your local area.

alex
alex

Wouldn't give up my cycle ride to work for anything - no need for gym membership, and also a chance to clear your mind in the morning preparing for work / clear it on the way home for girlfriend and family. Also no swine flu!

Sue Brymer
Sue Brymer

I've been cycling in London 33 years - started when I was 24 - work that one out! I have a good bike and retain a firm, non-aggressive but assertive approach to the traffic. It's very important not to feel fear and there are some dreadful drivers out there - some of the worst are mums in the SUVs, all windows up, who just don't see you. Also most bus drivers have changed over the past few years and often act as if you aren't there. Go out of your way to get a very very good lock: I have had 4 nicked over the years. My 2 sons (now 22 & 26) grew up sitting behind me perched on a little seat as we rode all over London. They both still ride and one of them competes internationally in XC and downhill mountain biking. Cycling is my passion. I love to ride in all weathers (forking out on some good practical gear is well worth it as it lasts for years) and I always get there quicker!

James Kimber
James Kimber

Go for it! If you're nervous about riding in town, do what my wife did and try it on a hire bike in the countryside first of all. We drove to a place at Beaulieu in the New Forest to rent a bike and she had a great time. Even bought one of their old ones and is whizzing around all over the place now! She says she feels great, and it's much nicer than the gym.