Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, according to the New York State Department of Health. If you're physically inactive, it might be a contributing factor to your obesity. In a study published in the 2008 "Journal of Physical Activity and Health," researchers at Rutgers University found that countries with the highest levels of cycling have the lowest obesity rates. Besides the fat-burning benefits, the seated position during cycling is an easier workout for the obese, because heavy weight often impedes movement with other forms of exercise. Today, there are bikes designed for the obese, so you can feel comfortable and safe while enjoying this beneficial exercise.
Selecting a Bike
Purchase a bike with a sturdy steel frame. The founder of Super Sized Cycles, Joan Denizol, recommends steel bike frames for their strength and durability. Wide handlebars are preferable, because they will evenly spread your weight load over the bike and make for more comfortable and balanced cycling. Look for a bike seat with enough surface area to fit your buttocks, and it should also be padded for cushioned comfort and support. Make sure that it's tightly connected to the stem so it won't become loose or wobble. The tires should be fat with strong rims and spokes. Fat tires are constructed to withstand bumpy roads and can accommodate heavy weight.
Stationary Recumbent Bikes
On a stationary recumbent bike, the pedals are in front of the seat, rather than directly underneath. The bike seat is able to recline, allowing you to sit back while pedaling. Many obese individuals suffer from back and knee problems, and the design of the recumbent bike reduces stress on those areas. Recumbent bikes are also easier for the obese person to mount and are secured to the floor so they can't tip over. You can find recumbent bikes in gyms, health clubs and spinning classes. If you feel self-conscious in groups, consider purchasing a recumbent bike for home use.
Before embarking on a cycling routine, check with your physician. Start slow and gradually increase your cycling pace, especially if you haven't cycled before. If you initially cycle too much, it might lead to muscle soreness, fatigue and possible injury. Try to cycle at least three times each week for up to one hour each ride. Take frequent breaks, if you need to, until you build up your strength. Bring a bottle of water with you and stay hydrated.
Cycling outfits in plus-sizes are becoming more available, thanks to growing demand. Look for bright, comfortable cycling clothing in sporting good shops and clothing stores that sell plus-sizes. If you're unable to find a reflector belt that fits, buy two belts and tape them together. Make sure to purchase a cycling helmet. Helmets can reduce injuries to the head by up to 85 percent, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- New York State Department of Health: Obesity Prevention
- Journal of Physical Activity and Health; Walking, Cycling, and Obesity Rates in Europe, N. America and Australia; David R. Bassett, Jr., et al.
- Recumbent-Bikes-Truth-For-You: The Recumbent Exercise Bike is Seen More and More in Gyms ...
- CharlotteCooper.net: How to Ride a Bike: A Guide For Fat Cyclists
- Cyclehelmets.org: The Health Benefits of Cycling
- BikeBiz: Obese Americans Can Now Slim With Fat-Friendly Bikes
- Health Touches: Comfort -- The Main Benefit of Recumbent Bikes