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Is cycling the ultimate physical activity?(41 posts)

Is cycling the ultimate physical activity?js5280
Sep 16, 2002 9:43 AM
I was talking to a friend who is looking to get back into shape and that got me thinking about cycling as physical activity. I started to think, "If one wanted to be physically active and healthy, what would the best/most efficient activity to undertake?" I'll be damned if I can think of an activity that would be better than cycling. Here's my reasoning:

1) Even a moderate cycling pace burns more calories per hour than most sports.
2) Cycling is one of the few sports even a sedentary person can cycle for an hour or two
3) Cycling aids both cardiovascular and muscle development
4) Is a low impact activity
5) Can be done anytime of the year
6) Can be done in just about any type of terrain or at home
7) Virtually any age can participate
8) Can be done individually or with a group
9) Can be done with people of varied skill level or age (Burley, 3rd wheels, bicycle)
10) Relatively low skills necessary to enter the sport (How many people have NEVER ridden a bike?)
11) Cycling can be relatively inexpensive

Can anyone think of another activity that could trump cycling? Just by virtue of calories burned, few activities beat cycling and those that do can't be sustained for long periods of time other than by highly trained athletes (e.g. the average person can't run 2 hours straight, but most could probably ride a bike for 2 hours) Cross country skiing is highly aerobic and healthy activity but it can only be done in the snow. Team sports require a team in order to participate. So what other activities are left? Is cycling the ultimate physical activity?
Of course it is, don't be rediculous.tronracer
Sep 16, 2002 10:00 AM
Brain fart......What show was Balki on????Dave Hickey
Sep 16, 2002 10:03 AM
Balki Bartokamous and Cousin Larry=Perfect Strangers. NMtronracer
Sep 16, 2002 10:06 AM
Perfect Strangers (nm)joekm
Sep 16, 2002 10:06 AM
Perfect Strangers? nmClydeTri
Sep 16, 2002 10:06 AM
Perfect Strangers. Just think how brillant we'd be. . .js5280
Sep 16, 2002 10:08 AM
if we could toss all that junk trivia out of our skulls and reoccupy it with more useful knowledge :-)
LOL, look at the responses.........:-)Dave Hickey
Sep 16, 2002 10:12 AM
Sep 16, 2002 10:02 AM
Swimming supposedly exercises more muscle groups than any other one exercise. Is no impact, just need a pool, no other expenses besides swim suit and goggles/kick board/fins if you so desire..guess one could go without swim suit if one wanted to!
or x-country skiingDougSloan
Sep 16, 2002 10:08 AM
I think x-country skiing is the most taxing aerobic activity, slightly more than swimming. (and you can't drown)I'll look for a reference.

or x-country skiingClydeTri
Sep 16, 2002 10:10 AM
supposed to be a great sport for training and exercise..problem is vast majority of the people have no access to it, and those who do, only for part of the year....most people live close to a pool/lake
country skiing is harder because....KurtVF
Sep 16, 2002 4:00 PM
It requires all out use of all 4 limbs, not just legs. Add shooting (as suggested below), it becomes even harder, not to mention much more politically incorrect!
Sep 16, 2002 10:26 AM
As ClydeTri pointed out, you don't need a suit to swim. This doesn't apply when you are cross country skiing!
or ROWING!grzy
Sep 16, 2002 11:38 AM
Also works all of the major muscle groups through a much larger range. Problem with swimming is that it doesn't really work the legs that well and they're fairly ineffective for being such large muscles. XC skiing is definitely a killer workout, but you need winter. Rowing isn't exactly accessable to everyone - you need water and a boat. The machines in a gym don't count since a big part of rowing is proper tecnique. Joining a club is pretty cheap and rowing is surprisingly fun and humbling. Yeah, it's another equipment sport, but it's got zen qualities. Open water on Monterey Bay is pretty wild.
Lawn Darts!VO2_max
Sep 16, 2002 12:02 PM
tru that, swimming, but not much fun and easy to burnout (nm)Raf1
Sep 19, 2002 7:59 PM
Sep 16, 2002 10:04 AM
Yes, it does require a pool; but cycling requires roads that are conducive to the sport.

Cycling gives a decent cardiovascular workout, except that there are some problems:

1. You can go very slowly and do lots of 'coasting', well below threshold heatrates (do this in the pool, you drown).

2. It does nothing, or next to nothing, for upper body muscles.

3. Most people can only do it for 2 hours because of (1).

Don't get me wrong, I hate swimming, but all-in-all, I think it's consistently a better workout.
Sep 16, 2002 10:13 AM
1. If you are in an olympic swimming pool, you can stop if you want too, just stand up, it's only 3.5feet deep. Can't coast on a track bike.

2. Agreed...solution...mountain bike.

3. Don't know what to make of this one

I love swimming, swam all 4 years in high school, but cycling is just so much fun.
Sep 16, 2002 10:34 AM
come swim rainbow channel with me. No stopping between ocean city and somers point.

If you stop your pista, you stand still. If you stop your swim, you drown.
Okay, that's different than swimming in a poolNMtronracer
Sep 16, 2002 11:17 AM
Except weirdly enoughscottfree
Sep 16, 2002 10:14 AM
if you're looking to shed fat, swimming doesn't seem to work. The body in some magical way senses the need for buoyancy and insulation in the swimmer, and 'spares' fat in the production of energy.

I can cite a source for this from my books at home, but even absent that, think of all the swimmers you know in great shape but nicely sleek with a layer of fat!
Sep 16, 2002 10:26 AM
When I was swimming, I was a whole TEN pounds heavier, and that's a lot on a lightweight like me's body. I figured it was water retention or something of the sort. I can't say for sure, but in the past few years I have been consistently 10 lbs lighter than when I was on the swim team. It's funny how different activities mold your body. When I was trianing kung fu, I was shredded all over, swimming, a bit beefier, cycling, rock solid ass and legs puny upper body. I think the kung fu was the most efficient in terms of physical benefit...stronger, faster, cat-like reflexes. It was almost as if everything else in my world slowed down.
Except weirdly enoughSteve_0
Sep 16, 2002 10:50 AM
Yeah, common undertanding amongst swimmers. I recall a few studies, though, which indicate that the swimmer actually adjusts his efforts based upon his flotation ability (fat level??).

Obviously, the more calories you burn, the more weight you lose. The faster you swim, the more calories you burn. However a subject will typically only swim as fast as he needs/feels.

Take the typical 50 meter pool swimmer; much more toned than the 5-mile bay swimmer. He also swims a LOT faster than the bay swimmer. Cause or effect?
Sep 16, 2002 1:08 PM
I decreased my bodyfat by 8% - 24% to 16% - by swimming with the masters swim team 3x/week two years ago. No other cardio exercise during that 6 month period, just lifted weights on off-days.

I've heard other people say you can't lose fat swimming, including my dad, and don't know what the problem is. I firmly believe that you can lose body fat no matter what exercise you do, as long as you work hard enough to burn more calories/week than you intake. You just have to push hard, and eat only what you need to keep healthy and no more. Swimming, biking, running, aerobics, whatever, it's all about burning more calories than you eat.
but swimming is so boring ...tarwheel
Sep 16, 2002 10:15 AM
I used to swim a lot and enjoyed it mostly because of how good I felt afterwards. It sure is boring, though, counting laps and having nothing to look at but the line on the bottom of the pool. And despite what people say about swimming being low impact, you can get hurt doing it. I messed up the rotator cuff in my shoulders from swimming, probably from poor technique and lack of stretching.
Sep 16, 2002 1:19 PM
Swimmers tend injure their shoulders much more than other athletes. Understandable since that's a funny joint in the first place, and swimming works and strains it in a variety of ways. I've so far been able to pre-empt that by doing a lot of shoulder, arm, chest, and lat weight-lifting on off days. Pullups and chinups, lat pull-downs, and military-press especially.

As for boring, I used to just deal with it. Swimming hard always caused enough pain to take my mind off the monotony. But this summer I started swimming the ocean and inland waterways, and it's much more interesting. Dodging oblivious teenagers on wave runners and motorboats, hoping the sharks have stopped feeding by sunup, and drinking waves of plankton-filled salt water definitely make it more interesting. I highly recommend it. ;)
dont forget the lovely taste of exhaust and motor oil!Steve_0
Sep 17, 2002 3:13 AM
ahhh, the joys of bay swimming!
lol. better than Starbucks! nmfbg111
Sep 17, 2002 6:43 AM
Good points but swimming doesn't burn as much calories. . .js5280
Sep 16, 2002 10:35 AM
and few people could swim constantly much more than 30 minutes. It is better though in overall conditioning. I still contend that cycling is more accessable though, burns more calories, and can work the heart longer.
dont really agree...Steve_0
Sep 16, 2002 10:45 AM
the groups I swim with never swim LESS than 30 minutes. Caloric burning is relative to intensity.

If accessability, caloric burning and heartrate are the only factors, running certainly beats biking.
Sep 16, 2002 1:23 PM
A 30 minute swim is just a warmup, no matter how hard you push it. 1 - 1.5 hr is much better, 2 is ideal, but few people have the time for that.
I would have to disagree.empacher6seat
Sep 16, 2002 10:14 AM
While it is a great sport for people of all ages and abilities, I don't think it deserves the title of "ultimate physical activity".

Just because you can bike for two hours straight doesn't mean that you can't get the same benifit from swimming or running for shorter times. And while it does build stregth and endurance, cycling doesn't give you much in other skills, such as hand-eye cooirdination, like basketball or baseball might. Sports like swimming also build upper body strength, another area lacking in cycling.

It's a great sport, don't get me wrong. I don't think there is one physical activity that rules above all others. They all have their pros and cons, but it's a personal topic. Soccer players will say soccer, cyclists will say cycling, etc. I think the ultimate activity is the one that makes you enjoy yourself the most, that gets you out everyday and makes you feel better after a long day at work or school. It's different for everybody.
Swimmers are sexy mofos.Alex-in-Evanston
Sep 16, 2002 10:51 AM
I do miss the body I had when I was swimming 18 hours a week. That being said, the black line on the bottom of the pool and the feet of the person in front of you can only hold interest for so long. I think this is why I got into biking after college. More scenery per minute (useful index?) than any other sport.

However, my girlfriend thinks I'm a spindly geek. She likes broad shoulders and hasn't learned to appreciate huge ass muscles.

It's funny so many of us cyclists are ex-swimmers...Dave Hickey
Sep 16, 2002 10:57 AM
Maybe the long hours of swimming lap after lap prepared us for long hours of pavement.
Nope, sex is. nmJuanmoretime
Sep 16, 2002 10:52 AM
Ultimate: How about Biathlon?Steve_0
Sep 16, 2002 10:55 AM
delicate balance of two extremes: pushing envelope of exertion and endurance, while retaining complete arobic-muscular control.

Lot harder and requires more discipline than most people are willing to admit.
Swimming and running toofbg111
Sep 16, 2002 12:59 PM
They fit your criteria as well, for the most part.

1) moderate pace swim and run burns calories well too. I think running burns more calories b/c more work to carry one's own body weight. Swimming and biking, your bodyweight is supported externally and you are only working against water and mechanical/air friction.

2) sedentary person can cycle and swim easily b/c they don't have to support their own body weight. Running would be difficult to get into b/c you must support your own bodyweight.

3) swimming and running build both cardio and musculo-skeletal strength as well.

4) cycling and swimming are low-impact, but running is not. Pounding away on the pavement is more likely to cause injury than the smooth movements in cycling and swimming. cycling is probably lower impact than swimming b/c it's easier to do correctly than swimming.

5) Cycling can't be done anytime of the year if you live in the snowy north, unless you're including mountain-biking and road biking. Running is difficult, and swimming can't be done outside unless you're a polar bear. All three really depend on the equipment and facilities available to you.

6) Cycling and running can be done in any terrain, swimming obviously can't. If you don't have a pool, lake, or ocean, you're sol.

7) any age can do all three.
8) all three can be done individually or with a group.
9) all three *can* be done with mixed skill levels, but most would probably prefer to do them with people of similar skill. also depends on the degree of skill separation in the group.

10) all three, relatively low skill entry barrier.

11) running is inexpensive. cycling is expensive compared to running. swimming may require a pool membership, but that's probably less up front than buying a bike. bike lasts longer though. chances are, if money is an issue, younger people will choose running b/c it's the cheapest, while older folks will go with biking or swimming b/c of its lower physical impact. if money is not an issue, people will chose whichever they tend to like best.
Cycling is the best because you get to use your bike...DavidS
Sep 16, 2002 4:35 PM
I can't think of any other sport where I can use my Campy 10 speed OCLV Trek.

Enough said.

-Dave S.
Bring your bike hiking. . .js5280
Sep 16, 2002 5:07 PM
and backpacking. I couldn't find a backpacking pic though from Montezuma's Reverge. They hall their bikes to the top a 14'er (14,000 feet) in the middle of the night! Why don't they have 24 hour road races?
THE REAL ANSWER ...bianchi boy
Sep 16, 2002 7:27 PM
It's obvious from reading all of these posts -- doing triathlons. You get the benefits of all three exercises. Plus swimming and cycling help prevent you from getting all beaten up from running, and swimming is great for loosening your muscles -- sort of like doing a prolonged stretch. The only downsides are that you have to wear those skimpy little tri-shorts, cycle without a jersey on, and stick clunky aerobars on your bike.
Sep 17, 2002 1:35 AM