QUESTION: Does cycling help lose belly fat? I want to lose weight, and I’m especially focused on my midsection. – Lewis H
ANSWER: If you’re riding a bike a lot and also keeping track of your calories, you are almost certain to lose weight. You can burn hundreds of calories per hour bicycling. (Exactly how many you burn depends on how fast you’re riding and how much you currently weigh.)
The truth is that there’s no real way to target a specific area like your belly when you’re losing weight. But the good news is that riding a bicycle has a lot of terrific advantages for losing weight in general, which will help with the belly issue as the pounds drop off.
It’s often easier to get started exercising on bicycle compared to running. It’s often impossible to run very far when you’re out of shape, and you can end up very sore the next day. It’s also hard on your knees and joints to run, because they take a pounding — especially if you are overweight.
A properly fitted bicycle with the right seat height will help you avoid knee issues, because bicycling in general is a low impact sport and is easier on your joints. Bicycles usually also have gears, which allows you to control your effort when you’re riding. If it’s too hard, you can slow down and shift into an easier gear and still keep going.
One thing you want to avoid if you’re riding a lot is trying to starve yourself. This can lead to what cyclists call bonking — when you run out of glycogen from burning too many calories and not replacing them.