By Laurel-Lea Shannon
Many cyclists cross-train in the winter with activities like running, cross-country skiing, skating and snowshoeing. Doing these sports helps maintain fitness, gets you outside and keeps you from going crazy while you wait for spring and the snow to melt. But even if you participate in winter activities and maintain your fitness all year long, you still need to spend some time on the bike indoors if you don’t want to be dropped like a hot potato on those first spring rides. Here are 5 big benefits of spinning:
1) Weight Loss: Your fitness schedule may have slipped off your radar over the last few weeks or months. But by now you’ve probably finished off the last of the Christmas goodies and it’s time to settle down and think seriously about the consequences of hauling around an extra 5 to 10 pounds this spring. Which is what will happen if you continue this downward slide—bad for your self-image, bad for your health, and a bad start to the cycling season.
Spinning is the answer to your prayers. Depending upon your weight and how intense your workout is, you can burn up to 500 calories an hour! If you don’t want to join a spinning class, buy a trainer and set it up at home. Check online for brands and price options. Triathlon Canada’s 2005 Masters Female Duathlete of the Year Diane Stibbard has a training program that will help you get in the best shape of your life by spring.
2) Muscle Tone: Spinning works your body’s large muscle groups: the quads, hamstrings and gluts. That’s why it burns so many calories. It also demands core strength. The benefit to you? With regular workouts, better toned waist, hips and thighs.
3) Cardiovascular Endurance: Spinning increases your cardiovascular endurance. It’s both an aerobic and anaerobic workout—it strengthens your cardiovascular system (aerobic) and your muscles (anaerobic). This is achieved by varying the intensity and the resistance of the workout, simulating hill climbs and sprints on flats. These are generally executed to a point just shy of making you barf but the intensity keeps you fit and you’ll feel great when the workout is finished.
4) Low Impact: Running and other high-impact sports may not suit everyone. Some people have knee, foot, or hip problems that prevent them from running. Others just don’t like it. Spinning is a low-impact activity that most people can do. You have control over the intensity, pace and resistance of your workout, even if you’re in a spin class.
5) Fun and motivation: Let’s face it, spinning gets boring fast, especially if you spin alone at home. Joining a spin class will help motivate you and keep you committed to your exercise program. After all, you don’t want your spin buddies having all the fun. Surviving a spin class with others builds camaraderie too. You’ll make new friends and may find new cycling buddies for your outside rides in the spring.