March 30th, 2009
11:33 AM ET

Cycling my way into that new bikini

By Jessica Silvaggio
CNN Medical News intern

Just the other day I was looking through the Victoria’s Secret’s swimsuit section and I was reminded that summer is not far way. But luckily I have been taking advantage of fitness classes over the past few months, not only to feel better about my body image but also for my overall health and well being.

Among the treadmills, ellipticals and rowing machines, my favorite is the cycling class. I feel like Lance Armstrong racing to win the Tour de France except I’m competing against saddle bags, hypertension and diabetes risk.

The health benefits of group exercise classes, especially cycling, are numerous. Staying active minimizes the risk of coronary disease and ensures your blood pressure is under control. It helps to prevent the clutch of health problems that include strokes, diabetes and cancer. I may be young, but sometimes I feel like I don’t have the energy to carry out simple day-to-day activities. Studies show that cycling helps a great deal in building stamina.

But wait there’s more good news. Cycling is one of the most effective ways to burn those extra calories while getting rid of the tummy flab and thunder thighs. Dr. Arthur Frank, a weight-management physician from George Washington University Hospital, says not all activity is the same. In order for exercise to help you lose weight, you have to burn an awful lot of calories. On the average, a 45-minute cycling workout burns up to 600 calories. That’s a lot, but how many times a week should I be cycling in order to look nice in that new beautiful red bikini? The 2008 Health and Human Services guidelines recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, three times a week.

With those stats, I now think twice about hitting the snooze button and skipping my morning cycling class. I may not like to sacrifice sleeping in, but by not exercising, I know that I am sacrificing much more. So I’m up and out. Summer is just right around the corner. While my housemates are fast asleep I’m dripping sweat, and spinning my way to a healthy heart, mind, body and soul.

What are you doing to get in shape for the summer? We’d like to know.

Editor’s Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Alex Lickerman

    It turns out that the number of calories you burn during an exercise may not be the only benefit that exercise brings. I just posted an entry called "The Truth About How To Lose Weight" on my own blog that points out how exercising intensely (as you describe cycling certainly is) can actually raise your resting metabolic rate for up to 11-14 hours AFTER you've finished exercising to result in upwards of an extra 1000 or more calories burned over that time!

    Alex Lickerman, MD

    March 30, 2009 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Tammy

    I loved your blog... When I head back to the gym... I will give cycling a try.

    March 30, 2009 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Mark Rocha

    I think your article will do a lot of good for a lot of people. A lot of information and it gets people motivated. Keep up the good work.

    March 30, 2009 at 15:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sylvia

    Interesting blog with some sound ideas!

    March 30, 2009 at 15:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Kim Kimbrell

    Awesome article!! Everything is so true, I've just got to learn not to hit the snooze button!!!

    March 30, 2009 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Shawn

    Great article, makes me want to get in the gym so bad so I can look good for the summer as well.

    March 30, 2009 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mark

    Although I do not plan to dawn a bikini this summer (per a court order), your point is well taken. I plan to do some biking this spring and summer in addition to walking/jogging. I see a great deal of patients in our practices on so many medications for diabetes and hypertension. Many of them could benefit greatly from regular exercise and a sensible diet.

    March 30, 2009 at 20:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. tim

    cyclists have huge thighs.

    March 31, 2009 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Paul

    There is problem with the theory. When thunder thighs are linked to hereditary, no amount of cycling or exercise will overcome them. Just makes them more defined and at times makes them larger.

    March 31, 2009 at 01:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. John

    As a former long-distance cycler, you have inspired me to put air back in my tires & hit the road again! Without such exercise, I have become "two tired!" Thanks.

    March 31, 2009 at 07:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. GF, Los Angeles

    I'm noot just getting healthy for the summer...I exercise every day for overall health period. Exercising is not a fad or seasonal thing for me...it's a way of life. I do all the things you've listed as well as spending time outdoors to mix things up.

    March 31, 2009 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. mike

    I have never tried a spinning class but I think it would be fun!

    March 31, 2009 at 16:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. dieselboise

    that post workout bump in resting metabolic rate is actually not that big of a deal–once you get in shape it largely disappears.

    March 31, 2009 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Denise Brandt

    After turning 50 in February I thought about reducing my activity level. Then I tried a spin class. I never enjoyed biking outside but spinning is totally different. After one class I noticed a difference especially in my thighs. You can adjust the intensity level easily so everyone of all ages can do it.

    April 1, 2009 at 07:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jerry

    Great follow-up to your healthy eating blog. Keep up all of the great information. You make me stop and think about my actions.

    April 1, 2009 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Steve

    Well written article, thanks for the insights....it has inspired me again!

    April 1, 2009 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. get trim for the summer

    A quick burn the fat weightloss is the amazing way to keep healthy always

    March 20, 2012 at 19:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. ant

    get trim for the summer

    March 20, 2012 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.