Biking and walking provide great cardio workouts that can help you achieve a healthy weight and a lean, toned stomach. The first place you are likely to gain weight is in the dreaded love handles, but you can get rid of them by consuming a healthy diet, burning overall calories for fat reduction and building lean muscle. Biking and walking offer cardiovascular -- or love handle-toning -- benefits, but each offers specific advantages.
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Looking strictly at calories, biking burns substantially more than walking. According to the Mayo Clinic, a 140-pound woman biking for 30 minutes burns 277 calories, while she burns only 130 by walking for the same amount of time. Before you jump on your bike, though, note that your toned-tummy goal depends on a long-term commitment to fitness, so consider which is a better fit for your lifestyle.
Walking may be a near perfect exercise, as it is low impact and works the whole body -- and the movements are completely natural making injury unlikely. It also has the advantage of being a social activity, as you can walk with friends. Aside from the occasional new pair of shoes, walking is free. Weather can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your region and time of year. If you choose walking as your routine, walk with your chest lifted and your abs pulled in, stepping heel to toe. According to the "Medicine and Sports Manual," contracting your abs while exercising is good for your posture and will strengthen your entire torso by involving more muscle groups, which burns calories more efficiently throughout your workout.
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Biking -- whether indoors or outside -- burns calories efficiently, and as a non-weight-baring exercise, it is also easy on your joints. With practice, biking can easily replace a short commute to work or to run errands -- and it's environmentally friendly. Costs can be a bit higher with the purchase of an outdoor bike, stationary bike, clothing and the occasional flat tire, but biking is still generally much cheaper -- and can be more fun -- than a gym membership. When you are starting out, stay safe. Wear a helmet, keep off busy roads and stick to flat roads and paths. As with walking, contract those abs for maximum calorie burning.
Customize Your Routine
Both biking and walking are powerful tummy-toning exercises if you stick with them and complement your workout with a healthy diet. It is also exhilarating to be outdoors while others are sweating it out at the gym. As with any new exercise regime, listen to your body, recognize its natural limits and always consult your doctor before you start.
Grace Bordelon is a public relations professional, teacher and writer. She owns her own boutique public relations firm that specializes in the advertising, gaming and software industries. She also teaches at a major design school for fine artists, commercial artists and graphic designers. Bordelon holds a B.A. in international economics and an M.A. in English from Bard College.