Wondering how many calories you’re burning on your bike to work or weekend trail rides, or whether cycling can help you lose weight?

Read on to find out how many calories you can expect to burn riding a bike.

Calories Burned Biking: Outdoors

When we were kids, getting around and riding bikes was just stepping on the pedals.

We may no longer be on our bicycles, but riding a bike for exercise, transportation, and fun has many benefits.

Cycling is an exercise that offers both cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal exercise with less impact on the joints and knees.

It can reduce stress and you can easily speed up or slow down depending on your fitness level and goals.

Road biking burns calories

Man Road Biking |  Biking burns calories

While you won’t get the same calorie-burning benefits from leisurely bike commuting as mountain biking, you can burn crazy calories on the road if you pedal hard enough.

But say your commute is 15 minutes each way, and you weigh 150 pounds, you can still burn 232 calories just going to work and back.

Even better, you don’t have to pay for parking.

Light effort for 1 hour (10 to 11.9 miles average)

weight 100 lbs 125 lbs 150 lbs 175 pounds 200 lbs 225 lbs 250 lbs
calories 309 386 464 541 618 696 773

Moderate effort for 1 hour (12 to 13.9 miles average)

weight 100 lbs 125 lbs 150 lbs 175 pounds 200 lbs 225 lbs 250 lbs
calories 364 455 546 636 727 818 909

Strenuous effort for 1/2 hour (14 to 15.9 miles average)

weight 100 lbs 125 lbs 150 lbs 175 pounds 200 lbs 225 lbs 250 lbs
calories 455 568 682 796 909 1,023 1,136

Mountain biking burns calories

Woman riding mountain bike on road  Biking burns calories

Navigating all those hills, inclines and declines inherent in mountain biking leads to a more strenuous workout than a simple pedal across town.

A typical 150-pound person can burn 477 calories in half an hour of walking uphill and 715 calories in 45 minutes.

Of course, since the typical mountain biking experience also includes coasting down Hills, your burn may be different.

General, for 1 hour:

weight 100 lbs 125 lbs 150 lbs 175 pounds 200 lbs 225 lbs 250 lbs
calories 386 483 580 676 773 869 966

Uphill, vigorous, for 1/2 hour:

weight 100 lbs 125 lbs 150 lbs 175 pounds 200 lbs 225 lbs 250 lbs
calories 318 398 477 557 636 716 796

Competitive, running, for 1 hour:

weight 100 lbs 125 lbs 150 lbs 175 pounds 200 lbs 225 lbs 250 lbs
calories 727 909 1,091 1,273 1,455 1,636 1,818

BMX biking burns calories

Woman riding bmx bike  Biking burns calories

BMX biking doesn’t provide the same burn as a vigorous trail bike experience with many hills, but this fun sport still packs a big calorie-burning punch: A 150-pound person can expect to burn 580 calories in an hour.

General, for 1 hour:

weight 100 lbs 125 lbs 150 lbs 175 pounds 200 lbs 225 lbs 250 lbs
calories 386 483 580 676 773 869 966

Calories Burned Biking: Indoor

Indoor cycling class  Biking burns calories

Indoor biking is a great alternative to outdoor biking in inclement weather. Stationary-bikes offer the convenience of customizing workouts as well as monitoring for results.

And you’ll find a variety of indoor biking classes at many gyms, health clubs, and spin studios.

Light to moderate effort (51 to 89 watts), for 1 hour:

weight 100 lbs 125 lbs 150 lbs 175 pounds 200 lbs 225 lbs 250 lbs
calories 218 273 327 382 436 491 546

Moderate to vigorous effort (90 to 100 watts), for 1 hour:

weight 100 lbs 125 lbs 150 lbs 175 pounds 200 lbs 225 lbs 250 lbs
calories 309 386 464 541 618 696 773

Strenuous effort (101 to 160 watts), for 1 hour:

weight 100 lbs 125 lbs 150 lbs 175 pounds 200 lbs 225 lbs 250 lbs
calories 400 500 600 700 800 900 1,000

Factors Affecting Calories Burned Biking

Your weight and riding style are two variables that will affect calories burned, among other factors.

For example, if you keep pumping your legs during the decline, you’ll burn more calories than just coasting.

Likewise, if you mix speed and intensity, you’ll burn more fat.

Steady-state exercise (running at a low to moderate intensity throughout your workout) is a good way to boost cardiovascular health.

But high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — alternating periods of intense effort and rest — is just as effective in that respect, and probably even better at weight loss.

Warning: You need to be healthy enough to do HIIT safely and effectively, so work your way up to it.

How to calculate calories burned biking

Indoor cycling class  Biking burns calories

You can calculate your own calorie burn by following these steps:

  1. Find the Metabolic Equivalent (METS) for the mode(s) of biking you want to do in Arizona State University’s Physical Activity Compendium.
  2. Use Cornell University’s METS-to-Calorie Calculator to convert the calories burned number from Step 1.

This figure may only be an estimate, but knowing that you’ve only burned a few hundred calories while having a great time can certainly be motivating.

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