​How many calories does cycling burn?

Looking for new ways to get fit? Interested about calorie burning activity? Find out how many calories cycling burns in this post.

Are you a curious, inquisitive cyclist and fan of the great outdoors? Then listen up. Some questions have clear cut answers; take this one for example: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make it sound?

The answer’s yes; it’s a tree. They’re quite big.

There - now that we’ve given you the answer once and for all and put that metaphysical hot potato to bed, let’s cover a question without a clear cut answer: How many calories does cycling burn?

The answer is – it depends! We’ll get to the statistics at the end of this article, but first there are a few things you need to consider when making this calculation; one of which is your body.

How your body type impacts calorie loss when cycling

Cycling, like any physical activity, requires some muscle. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be in great shape, it’s the muscles you have in your thighs and calves that are pedalling and moving you forward.

The amount of muscle tissue you have in your body directly impacts the number of calories you’ll burn in a cycling session. It’s for this reason that men generally burn more calories than women (men naturally have a higher percentage of lean muscle mass than women, according to livestrong.com).

Of course, the more you weigh the more fat there is to burn; think of your body like a car – if it needs more fuel to make it run, it’ll also burn through more fuel too. At the end of the day, calorie loss depends on your metabolic rate, and everyone’s is different. To keep your metabolism high, you need to keep a high muscle mass. This means plenty of regular exercise!

​What did your cycle look like?

We don’t mean how cool you looked to passers-by when whizzing along, or how great the selfies of you and your bike in front of a beautiful landscape came out. Instead, we’re talking about how it looked in terms of effort; how far did you go? Where did you ride? And at what pace?

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the more high-energy your cycle, the more calories you’ll burn. This doesn’t just mean that the longer you spend on your bike the better; after all, a 45-minute leisurely walk probably won’t burn as many calories as five to ten minutes of intense cardiovascular exercises.

Instead of time spent on your bike, if you want to burn more calories you should increase the effort you’re putting in. This means going longer distances, increasing your pace, and even tackling some hilly terrain if you’re on a mountain bike.

The number of calories revealed:

As we’ve established, the number of calories you’ll burn when cycling depends on a few factors, but here’s how it breaks down:

Stats courtesy of allweightlossinfo.net

Stats courtesy of allweightlossinfo.net

Let’s start at the top. Mountain biking or BMXing is all about going up hills, swerving tight corners, pulling off tricks and switching gears; for this reason, the number of calories you’ll burn in an hour can’t be firmly pinned down in the same way as road biking. However, as an estimate, a 180lb (12.8 stone) person can expect to burn 695 calories in an hour of mountain biking or BMXing.

Next up is a casual cycle of less than 10mph. Whether you decide to ride to and from a shop that’s half an hour an away, or just fancy getting out and about on the bike for an hour, by the time you get home you can expect to have burned somewhere in the region of 327 calories (for 180lbs in weight).

As there are no firm guidelines for mountain biking or BMXing, arguably the most calorie-burning cycle is road biking. If you’re pushing yourself to travel at speeds of more than 20mph for an hour or more, a 180lb person could burn 1,308 calories.

So, if you’re looking to burn calories, make sure your cycling sessions are vigorous. Challenge yourself to increase your speeds and distances every time you head out on the bike, and you’ll be burning off those pesky calories in no time. If you’re mountain biking through the woods, you might even be around to hear it when that tree falls.

Thinking of taking cycling more seriously? Check out these articles:

Bike maintenance: how to make your bike go faster

Bike maintenance: How to keep your bike going for longer

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