Staging Your Personal Tour de France
You may feel like the most inactive person in the world, but it is possible to achieve your own Tour de France victory.
Be Like Lance
You may feel like the most inactive person in the world, but it
is possible to achieve your own Tour de France victory.
"Cycling is a great activity that can be performed by a
wide variety of fitness levels, body types, and body sizes," says Cedric
Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on
The benefits are just as generous. According to Bryant, biking
can help burn calories, control body weight, and reduce stress, blood pressure,
and risk of type 2 diabetes. It can also improve overall cardiovascular
fitness, cholesterol levels, and immune function.
Not only that, there's the advantage of being outdoors in the
sunlight and fresh air, having adequate cooling, and seeing different terrains
And if you enjoy the sport, the pros multiply. "The best
exercise that you can select is the one that you enjoy, because you're most
likely to do that on a consistent basis," says Bryant. "Don't get
caught up in 'Well, this one doesn't burn as many calories as the next one.'
The most important thing to consider is, what type of activities do you really
Incidentally, a 150-pound cyclist pedaling a gentle pace of 12
miles per hour can work off 410 calories in an hour (about the same amount as a
Quarter Pounder hamburger), says Patrick McCormick, a spokesman for the League
of American Bicyclists.
Your own biking regimen, though, may pale compared to the 5,900
average calories burned per day in the Tour and may not work off as much as
running. (An hour on the bike may burn about 400, while the same time on the
treadmill may burn 700 calories.)
Nonetheless, cycling is a still a great exercise and has its
merits. It doesn't strain the knees, joints, and back to the extent that
running does. In fact, as many runners age, they become cyclists because the
pedaling motion reduces pressure on their knees, says McCormick.
People who bike to work report less stress from having to deal
with traffic and say they generally feel good about themselves. Plus, some
cyclists have the added satisfaction of being friendly to the environment.
If you're still not convinced, consider this: At age 50, Mary
Madison was in the worst shape ever. She suffered from arthritis, complications
from childhood polio, and had the beginning symptoms of emphysema after smoking
for three decades. She did not think she could ride even one mile on the
Fast forward 18 years, and Madison cycles some 2,000 miles from
East Montana to Sacramento, Calif., to her 50th high school reunion. The
retired nurse also made the trip back home. She says doctors now can't find
signs of her emphysema, and her arthritis and complications from polio don't
bother her as much.
What happened? Madison says she just started biking. First, she
did one mile, then two, and then five. Gradually, she worked her way up to
cycling multiday long-distance rides around her home state of Montana.
"When I biked, it was the one thing that gave me relaxation
and help me feel good," says Madison.