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  1. #1
    vol
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    Benefits from cycling slowly?

    If I always ride at leisure pace and avoid uphills, how many and what health benefits do I still get from cycling?

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    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    All of them. It may take more time to burn calories because the activity level is reduced, but walking and bicycling slowly are both still exercise, still get you outdoors, and still work muscle groups. That its a reduced cardio vascular workout can be a good thing depending on your physical condition.

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    The fact you are out and moving versus sitting on your arse in front of the TV or computer. Absolutely nothing wrong with slow cycling, in fact that is my preferred mode. I used to worry about average speed, miles covered, etc. After my last bicycle computer broke I didn't bother replacing it. I do occasionally push myself to ride a few hills, certainly won't hurt my physical well being. Besides I am a member of The Slow Bicycle Movement and wouldn't want to have my membership revoked!

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    Senior Member work4bike's Avatar
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    It's hard to say without know how much you're taxing your system, in other words what's your average HR with respect to your max HR. I see a lot of people on bikes here in Florida that ride really slow, 10 mph is typical for them. Would not take long to hit their aerobic plateau with that type of riding. And once you hit a plateau, you can stay there for a long time, but as you age that plateau starts sloping downward.

    If you want true aerobic health you must push your body and then you'll become truly healthy, but then you run the risk of overuse injuries, so then you gotta cross-train. And of course you gotta add anerobic exercise ( http://www.sciencedaily.com/articles...c_exercise.htm ) to the mix in order to really feel alive.
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    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Low-level aerobic activity has enough health benefits to keep you healthy and in shape...but if you want to be extremly fit or superfit then low-intensity alone is not enough...you will need to mix high intensity-low intensity training together.

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    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    You won't be ready for the TDF next July with a leisurely training regimen.
    You won't be able to keep up with the fast guys (and gals) on club rides.

    That said, riding slowly is much better than not riding.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

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    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    The fact you are out and moving versus sitting on your arse in front of the TV or computer. Absolutely nothing wrong with slow cycling, in fact that is my preferred mode. I used to worry about average speed, miles covered, etc. After my last bicycle computer broke I didn't bother replacing it. I do occasionally push myself to ride a few hills, certainly won't hurt my physical well being. Besides I am a member of The Slow Bicycle Movement and wouldn't want to have my membership revoked!

    Aaron
    Thanks for the link! Great to see people actually having fun with bicycles without just trying to see how fast they can go on lightweight bikes!

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    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    I think sometimes people see the bicycle as a means to "easy exercise". The bicycle increases efficiency. If you ride slowly for 5 miles, you'll get less exercise than you will walking 5 miles. It's still better than sitting on a sofa. But with exercise in general, the benefit you get is related to effort you put into it, not to the distance or time involved. You could coast downhill on a bike and get zero exercise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    If I always ride at leisure pace and avoid uphills, how many and what health benefits do I still get from cycling?
    You're still burning calories because you're moving. While you may not be burning them up as fast as someone speed-riding, you're still benefiting by working your muscles and cardiovascular system. You will still gain some leg muscle as you're using them, but as others have said, you won't be riding the TDF anytime soon.

    IMO, you'll probably get more out of it in terms of mental health benefits; relaxation, time to think, etc. I do my best thinking when I'm just out on my bike pedaling away with absolutely no goal in mind. I find myself in this "dream world" and just..."ponder." I come home from a ride feeling refreshed and renewed, not with quivery legs like I just took a body-check into the boards by Scott Stevens.
    - Dan \m/

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    Senior Member 99Klein's Avatar
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    I would think you would still receive all of the benefits. Try it for yourself and I'll bet in six months you'll be covering a lot nor ground with the same effort. Probably be a bit lighter in the saddle too.
    When you argue with an idiot, from a bystanders point of view, it may be hard to discern which is the idiot. (dis·cern: Verb - Perceive or recognize)

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    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    There's probably an optimum speed somewhere in terms of distance covered versus energy used, giving you the maximum range for a given effort. Cycle far enough and you'll feel worn out, whatever the speed. When cycling slowly for a long distance I'd expect that you'd gain more in terms of stamina than strength.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

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    Slob GrouchoWretch's Avatar
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    The mental benefits are significant also. The brain is doing a lot of work when you ride a bike. Keeps you awake and alive.
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    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    If I always ride at leisure pace and avoid uphills, how many and what health benefits do I still get from cycling?
    Cycling "slowly" is every bit as healthful as walking, jogging or slow running.

    It's all about moving your body, breathing more and getting the ol' ticker pumping.

    "Tai chi" is a good non riding art that will also keep you healthy. Tai chi is especially good for seniors.

    Leave the jock stuff to the jocks since they burn out at about 40.
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    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vol View Post
    If I always ride at leisure pace and avoid uphills, how many and what health benefits do I still get from cycling?
    At the very least it is better than nothing. The only science I studied in school was political science, so take it with a grain of salt but my guess is it is a bit better than that. You are probably not gaining a huge amount of strength or cardio fitness, but I believe you are helping to keep what you already have. Keeping what you already have sounds good from a longevity and quality of life standpoint to me. Plus being outside doing stuff has positive mental effects as others have mentioned.

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    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Leave the jock stuff to the jocks since they burn out at about 40.
    I just had to LOL at that one.. sounds funny and it's so true. Too many people just don't realize the benefits of low-intensity aerobic activities. Some people just want to push hard and break speed records day after day, not realizing that chronic cardio is not healthy in the long run. It will lead to burn out and injuries. I admit I've been guilty of that one. Just last year I burned out and had some minor injuries..not from cycling but from strength training.
    I am getting to be in my mid 40's now but sometimes I still want to act as if I am 18. After that unpleasent experience I now know where to draw a line and back off. I still strength train with weights/bodyweight excercises 3 times per week and ride my bike everyday but now I have a better understanding of the limits of my body.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Jim Kukula's Avatar
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    I've been gradually building up my miles and getting stronger. Last year I rode about 3000 miles. I do feel stronger. Just today I went grocery shopping, 14 miles there and 14 miles back. 33 pounds of groceries on the ride back and that is an elevation gain of about 400 feet and surely a bit more total climbing. Some of the steeper parts were not too bad even with the load. I remember three years ago those hills would kill me, and that was a lighter bike with no load.

    But still, I am pretty much stuck at 10 mph average speed, or a few tenths more. OK, I have a 40 pound bike with 20 pounds of miscellaneous junk on board - the 5 pound lock etc. Studded 47 mm wide tires during the winter. Yeah and 30 pounds of flab too that seems very reluctant to disappear!

    Sometimes I take a heart rate monitor out on a ride but it is really ridiculous. My heart rate is always way over any sensible target range.

    A heart rate monitor is a good way to measure the intensity of your workout. Speed can be a proxy when all the various conditions are constant, i.e. when you ride the same route regularly and can plot out a regular correlation. But different people on different routes and different bikes, forget it!


  17. #17
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Riding slowly is nice once in a while, but cycling is most exhilarating and satisfying for me when I'm pushing my limits.
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    Benefits from cycling slowly?

    -It hurts less when you fall
    -Less risk of accident when you see a babe on the sidewalk
    -No more risks of sun burn because you wake up so early that the sun hasn't waken up yet
    -No more hesitation when you wake up late, you know you will be late
    -Wow, such a beautiful landscape around here!
    -You get used to hear drivers shouting and honking behind you.
    -No more hesitation if it rains, you already know you will be wet and even dry before arriving.
    -You can beat anybody when comparing how much time you spend on your bicycle so nobody ask you anymore.
    -Geez! Days are shorter nowadays!
    -When people ask you what's your favorite story, you already know the answer: Tortoise and the Hare.
    -Other people haven't found the true happiness in life yet, you have.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    The only time I ride slow is when it's as fast as I can go.

  20. #20
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    Riding slowly is nice once in a while, but cycling is most exhilarating and satisfying for me when I'm pushing my limits.
    +1
    I'm in my upper 50s, and I haven't 'worn out' yet. I've even had a few lifetime bests in the past couple years. It's not that there's anything wrong with going slowly, but emotionally I can't do it. If I ever get old and can't ride fast anymore, it's going to be a huge mental adjustment.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Dilberto's Avatar
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    Slow, easy ride is best suited for somebody who is very overweight and does not want to blow his knees out or collapse a lung, with higher intensities. Do it on an empty stomach, and you'll actually torch major calories...as your body fat stores will all be used as the immediate source of workout energy. Before you go out and do just that - you must first CONDITION YOURSELF to burn fat....or else you'll face the dreaded BONK.
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    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    OK - So if no-one else is going to post this - guess I'll have to: Your chances of finding a hot babe as a riding partner is lots higher if you're willing to bicycle at THEIR level - which is usually fairly leisurely because most women I know are more interested in going places and doing things than just seeing how fast they can go.

    So when I go biking with my favorite girl - the biking part is secondary and having a good time doing things together is the real objective. And that happens better at a leisurely pace.

  23. #23
    LDB
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    Senior Member LDB's Avatar
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    You know, the tortoise was the winner not the hare.
    1974 Raleigh International, 2013 Specialized Crossroads, 195x Hercules 3 spd
    My hero was the tortoise not the hare. One mailbox at a time.

  24. #24
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    The only time I ride slow is when it's as fast as I can go.
    Word, I bonked at the end of a metric club ride last year that had only been scheduled for 35 or so. The last 4-5 miles I was pretty well dropped, and the last 2 or 3 I kept looking at my computer and seeing 12 MPH. I literally could not go any faster. I would try, and see the numbers creep up by 1 or 2 and then immediately drop back. It was pretty humbling, especially as we are not talking about unheard of, epic distances here. I did learn a valuable lesson in running out of calories though...

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    Senior Member PDX Reborn's Avatar
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    Its the only way I roll I do my best to avoid hills and will mostly seek out, low grade, alternate routes to my destinations.

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