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Showing posts with label Bicycling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bicycling. Show all posts

Pokémon Go as a Workout Plan - How to get the Most Exercise and the Most Pokémon

First, what is Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game that works on both Apple and Android devices (smart phones and tablets). The game uses real world exploration to collect Pokémon in the game, and later to battle Pokémon against each other.

Note - The game has become intensely popular, as the Pokémon Go craze has swept the USA and Canada. For some people it is now more popular than Facebook. It isn't just for kids either. Many adults, usually between 20 to 40, are now playing the game. But that doesn't mean that elderly people cannot get into it too, and are doing so - partially for the fitness benefits.

The goal of the game is to physically get the player to go from location to location, collecting Pokéballs, Pokémon, and other objects within the game. This means that people are walking, jogging, running, cycling, etc to get from location to location as part of the goals of playing the game.

Pokéstops are real world locations, varying from park benches dedicated to people, statues, museums, art galleries, historic sites, etc. At each Pokéstop a person visits they can then slide the icon sideways so it spins and they then get free Pokéballs and other stuff that are useful for playing the game.

Being close to Pokéstops also means that you are also in a great place to catch random Pokémon. They will randomly appear on the screen, usually with your phone vibrating or making a beeping noise to alert you that there is a random Pokémon nearby. Click on the Pokémon and you can attempt to catch it by throwing Pokéballs at it. (Which feels a bit like basketball, but once you get the hang of it throwing the balls and catching them is pretty easy. The only trick is if you miss, that Pokéball is gone and you can run out of Pokéballs very easily if you are struggling to get good accuracy with your throw.)

Pokégyms are unlike real gyms, in the sense that you don't normally fight people at gyms. When you visit one you can try to defeat the current defender(s) of the gym which works a bit like the old "King of the Castle" game you might have played when you were a kid. You fight your strongest Pokémon against whichever Pokémon are guarding the gym. If you manage to defeat all of the Pokémon guarding a gym, then you capture that gym and you can leave a Pokémon there to guard it. You will get your Pokémon back after they are later eventually defeated.

Pokémon Go's Augmented Reality

So why is Pokémon Go good for Fitness?

This game has been surprisingly good at getting people outside exercising when they would normally be indoors watching TV or fooling around on the internet. It is arguably a Competitive Sport.

The more you exercise, the more Pokémon you get, the more powerful those Pokémon become, the better they do in battles, etc. Thus it is a surprisingly powerful and easy way to motivate people to go outside and exercise.

That motivation factor is one of the biggest reasons why some people succeed at losing weight and others fail in their attempt. A game which helps motivate people to go for walks outdoors certainly scores points on the motivation factor, even if it does seem childish.

Now it is possible to gain various things within the game, like Pokéballs, just by paying for them. However even if you pay for the Pokéballs you still need to go outside and walk around to find and catch Pokémon - as they are rarely going to be on your doorstep. Thus while some people might choose to spend money in an effort to reduce how much exercise they have to do to play the game, they still need to exercise a fair bit just to find Pokémon.

Furthermore you cannot cheat during this game. While it is possible to catch a few Pokémon while in a car or on a bus, most of the time the speed of the vehicle will cause you to miss things, such as Pokémon and Pokéstops that are too far away by the time GPS catches up to the speed of the vehicle you are in. Thus the ideal speeds to be going is somewhere between walking and bicycling.

What I find fascinating is that this game has done what no sport has done before - get millions of people to suddenly go outside and exercise, with little more motivation than the attempt to find fictional non-existent pocket monsters who only exist within the game. You don't really get much out of the game beyond the fun of catching them, and the journey of catching them becomes the really fun part instead - in other words, walking around and exploring becomes the real challenge and the whole point of the game. The journey becomes both the means and the end goal.

10 Ways to Lose Weight using Pokémon Go

1. Family Fitness - Take the whole family with you and you can all play the game together as you explore. Friends who are also into the game means more people to talk to while you explore, so it becomes a social activity for everyone involved.

2. Jogging - Get from Pokéstop to Pokéstop faster by jogging. Dress for the occasion and take water with you! (Or plan your route so it goes by libraries with free water fountains.)

3. Cycling - Get there even faster on a bicycle. See more Pokéstops and catch more Pokémon in less time. Many bicycle trails will also have various Pokéstops along the way too.

Map of Pokémon locations in downtown Toronto
4. Walking - Take the easy way and just walk it. Very relaxing. In Toronto a simple walk around the downtown area will garner you quite a few Pokémon. See map on right.

5. Hiking - Hilly parklands can sometimes have lots of Pokémon. In the last two days I have visited two parks in Toronto and came away feeling invigorated from walking and exploring, and catching quite a few Pokémon.

6. Focus on Cardio - Don't be afraid to alter your speed now and then. Rotate between walking and jogging between Pokéstops the same way people do using HIIT (high intensity interval training). This way you get to enjoy the best of both worlds between walking and jogging, getting more Pokémon faster, but with breaks that allow you to take it easy once in awhile.

7. Stay Safe - Don't take silly risks. Pay attention to where you are going, what is around you, avoid cliffs or steep ledges, take the long way around, avoid dangerous shortcuts, and take your time. Also you don't need to look at your phone the whole time. You can ignore it while you walk from location to location.

8. Go to the Beach - If you want to swim, then do it safely. All of the Pokémon will be on the shore however as they usually dot places of importance, historical or otherwise. Many water-based Pokémon can be found near lakes, rivers, and ponds - and Toronto has plenty of rivers and water features to check out.

9. Rollerblading - Again, watch where you are going and be careful. Rollerblading will let you get from place to place faster, which saves on battery life - and you get to capture more Pokémon faster.

10. Skateboarding - Not for everyone, but still a decently fun way to get around Toronto.

Note - Fans of the Pokémon TV show will also note that one of the main characters also used a skateboard frequently to get around.

Toronto Bicycle Trail Challenge

On the right is a true challenge for cyclists of Toronto - One with both ups and downs, and a good chunk of beautiful woodland scenery.

Take the TTC Sheppard subway line to get to your starting location. North of Highway 401, ride the bikeway through East Don Parkland, then south to Edwards Gardens. Use the Toronto Cycling Map to guide you down the Don Valley all the way to the lakeshore and then take the subway at Union Station to get home.

The route is available on Google Maps: Don Valley Bicycle Trail.

Ride Route Notes

  • Exit at the east end of the Sheppard subway station.
  • Cross the crosswalk north, on the west side of Leslie and Sheppard – the gateway to the Don River Trail can’t be missed.
  • If you don’t want to go north, look for the bikeway down the valley at the south west corner of the intersection.
  • At the top of East Don Parkland, turn around, or follow the Toronto Bike Map to Bike Route 51 south – it will take you through some classic Toronto highrise and bungalow neighbourhoods, and near Toronto’s richest neighbourhood "Bridle Path".
  • Food and drink – and a rest – can be had when you reach York Mills Road.
  • The route will then take you through an industrial park with some surprisingly significant architecture, past Edward Gardens (find the trail access along the south side of the parking lot), and back down into the Don Valley.
  • It’s all downhill from there… literally, as you cycle south to the lakeshore and west downtown. Follow the Bikes and Transit maps for a ride through the Distillery District and The Esplanade – or stay on the Waterfront Trail west and come up to Union Station at Yonge St.

Do you have to be super fit to get the benefits of cycling?

Spring is almost here and it is time to get the old bicycle out!

Over 13.5 million Canadians commuted to work in 2011*. Many of them drove cars to work.

* Statistics marked with an Asterisk are from Statistics Canada.

According to Statistics Canada, they took various forms of transportation including cars, public transit, ferries and bicycles. Public transit users are made up of about 12% of the population which jumped up 1% from the 2006 census when it was 11% of the Canadian population.

Cycling accounts for just over 200,000 commuters in Canada. Victoria, B.C. has the most cyclists of all the major cities in Canada. Clearly Canadians are increasingly warming up to the idea of cycling as an alternative to driving to work. And why shouldn't they, there is documented evidence that cycling can improve your physical health, your mental health as well as helping the environment and providing a relatively cheap and easy way to get to work.

Given all the benefits it makes you wonder if out-of-shape people would be more likely to cycle to work if they were physically fit?

After all, it stands to reason people who are out-of-shape and not proud of their bodies might be loathe to bicycle to work if they feel they are not physically up to the challenge. It thus becomes a bit of a Catch-22 that if a person is overweight, how can they lose weight via bicycling if they feel defeated before they have even started.

First, let's see what cycling in Toronto looks like on a statistical level. There has been a small increase in cycling in Toronto over a 10 year period (1999 to 2009) of about 6% of Torontonians who commute to work via bicycle. Particularly from 2001 to 2006, the number of Torontonians cycling to work increased by 30%. The biggest increase was in female riders and the demographic that increased the most was female riders aged 45 - 54 and male riders aged 55 - 64. This demographic might be due to a higher number of middle-aged / older Torontonians getting into cycling for its health benefits - possibly with other unknown factors contributing to the rise.

Though cycling is on the rise in Toronto, the city still lags behind all major cities in Canada. 1.2% of commuters in Toronto cycled to work in 2011*. When compared to Victoria's 5.6% of commuters who bicycle to work, Toronto's 1.2% seems tiny in comparison. Clearly Toronto has lots of work to do if Toronto is to become a more bicycle friendly city.

Granted Victoria only has a population of 78,000 people (2006 census) while Toronto has 2.5 million. So Toronto has 30,000 cyclists who commute to work to Victoria's approx. 4,368 cyclists who commute to work.

Next, let's find out what kinds of health benefits we can experience with cycling.

Cycling can improve your general health and fitness, everyone know that, but lets take a moment to bust a myth about pollution inhalation. Cycling to work reduces the amount of pollution you intake on your commute. Contrary to popular belief, cyclists inhale less pollution than motorists do. You would think it would be the opposite, but according to 'An Overview of Cycling Research', a document compiled by Dr. Chris Cavacuiti which examines a plethora of studies on the topic, cyclists inhale less pollution than motorists do. So even though motorists are in the "safety" of the cars, they still inhale more fine and ultrafine particulate matter than cyclists do - possible because motorists are often stuck in traffic for longer periods of time, and they may also be inhaling fumes from their own vehicle. The exact cause of why motorists inhale more pollution has not been determined as of yet, but what is known is that they are definitely inhaling more of it.

On the exercise level studies have shown that active transportation - exercise that is part of the daily routine of getting to work as opposed to exercise that is structured activity (i.e. going to the gym) is more sustainable over time. This means people get into the routine of bicycling to work and this routine becomes customary, whereas people who visit the gym sometimes lose focus and stop going to the gym.

Many gym-goers also use stationary bicycles while at the gym, but the health benefits of cycling inside an air conditioned gym vs cycling in the great outdoors isn't so much a matter of which is better from a health perspective, but which is better for people to stay motivated to keep doing it. Cyclists who cycle outdoors report that they love cycling and would never willingly give it up. Gym goers on stationary bicycles are more ambivalent on the topic and report becoming "bored easily".

Mental health can be improved by cycling as well. A meta-analysis discovered that exercise can be used as a treatment for depression. Exercise can also contribute to reducing the risk of sleep disorders and eating disorders. There are other benefits to cycling including increased sense of community, decreased congestion, and reducing the effects of Alzheimer's and dementia.

Cycling is also a great way to build endurance - which has a variety of side benefits for many other activities (including activities in bed).

There are many benefits to cycling but unfortunately there are also risks. The risks include death and injuries and such incidents are reported in the news media. However fatality rates for cyclists are much lower in Canada than pedestrians and drivers/passengers. So you are more likely to get hit by a car and killed while walking across the street than you are to be killed while cycling.

Over a 20 year period between 1988 and 2008 fatality rates have decreased in general for cyclists. Overall, when taking a risk benefit analysis on cycling, most people find that the benefits greatly outweigh the risks by 20 to 1.

So do you need to have a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1985 to start cycling or bicycle to work? Obviously not. You certainly do not need to be Arnold to start to get the benefits of cycling. The best thing to do is to just start - and if it is possible to bicycle to work where you live, why not do so? Of course it may be hard at first, your lungs will burn and so will your thighs, but keep at it and it will get easier over time.

Before long you will be reaping the health benefits of cycling and you will be wishing you had started cycling to work sooner.

Am I too fat to do archery? + Cycling for Overweight People



I live near the Toronto Archery Range and I am thinking about getting into archery. I am close enough to bicycle there so I figured if I bicycled to the archery range it would be a good way to lose weight.

However I do have two questions I need help with:

1. I weigh 380 lbs (it fluctuates, but that is my current weight). I worry that my weight will impede my ability to do archery. Full disclosure, I have what some people might call 'a generous chest area' and while I know that is normal for a man my size, I do worry it will make it difficult for me to do archery. Do you have any advice concerning this? Am I too fat to do archery?

2. I find riding a bicycle painful on my posterior (if you know what I mean). How can I alleviate this so the seat isn't so painful?

Name Withheld for Privacy Reasons"


Part One!

No, you're not too fat. I maintain that anyone can learn to do archery - and learn to do it well with continued practice. While it is true physical fitness certainly helps, that is not the deciding factor in the matter.

Many women (and a few men) have very generous chest areas, but this doesn't mean they cannot do archery. Many beginners (not just people who are amply proportioned) encounter problems with string contact on the chest when they are at full draw because they have a tendency to lean away from the bow as they pull back on it.

Leaning back away from the bow changes the angle of the torso so the chest area ends up making contact with the bow string. Standing up straight - or deliberately leaning into the shot - changes the angle dramatically and the chances of string contact are dramatically reduced.

For some women with ample bra sizes they find that string contact is dramatically reduced when wearing a sports bra.

However for men having a sports bra isn't normally an option... But if you Google that topic, you will discover there are male chest girdles designed to compact the chest area and flatten it out - so that does exist.

I found several chest compression vests on that might work for some people, but according to the descriptions they are often designed for men who weigh specific amounts. I am certain there are products out there however that are designed for men in your weight category.

Archery chest guards are designed to flatten one side of your chest, but mostly in an effort to keep excess fabric from clothing rubbing against the bow string. They aren't designed like a sports bra is in an effort to flatten everything and keep it firmly in place.

As you can see above the bow string isn't rubbing against her chest area, but it probably wouldn't be rubbing against her anyway because her posture is nice and upright (no leaning away from the bow). She is wearing a chest protector, but that is mostly because she is conscious of the fact any loose clothing might interfere with the bow string.

So before you rush out to purchase a chest compression vest or a chest guard I recommend you first learn how to shoot and stand up straight while shooting. There is no need to run out and buy a vintage men's girdle that looks like it is something out of the 1800s.

Have a friend take photos of you while shooting so you know for certain you aren't leaning back away from the bow and changing the angle of your torso.

Then if you determine that you are still having difficulties, then you can look into purchasing a compression vest to help flatten out part of your chest.


Part Two!

You are not alone with the uncomfortable bicycle seat problem. Many elderly people also find modern bicycle seats to be too uncomfortable (and some religious orthodox people feel that are too scandalous).

There is a solution however: Broader seats, ergonomic seats, and even gel filled seats with shocks under them. Prices vary, but here are some examples of different bicycle seats below.

 Another thing you should do is make sure the angle of the bicycle seat (after it is installed) is level. Sometimes people find their seats are uncomfortable because the seat itself is on a forward or backward angle, and this in turn hurts both their posterior (as you put it) and your lower back muscles.

The 12 Days of Xmas Fitness Gifts

Do you know someone who loves exercising often or wants to be exercising more often? Support their interest (and their health) this Xmas Holiday Season with the following list of gift ideas for the fitness freak in your life.

#1. Water Bottles - The better quality the better. Some water bottles break too easily, so finding a really good water bottle is amazing. One of my favourite water bottles is an old fashioned army canteen. It is nothing special to look at (although you can find them now in pink and other colours), but they are amazingly durable and don't break easily.

#2. Bicycle or Bicycle Accessories

If they don't have a bicycle, get them one. Or if they do have a bicycle, get them lots of handy bicycle accessories. eg. Kryptonite bicycle locks are one of the best bicycle locks on the market, so that is certainly a possibility. There are also lights, helmets, seats, bicycle tools, racks, water bottle holders, camel backpacks and more. HOWEVER some people are picky about what bicycle gear they will use so you may need to research what things they want/need first. When in doubt get them a gift card to a bicycle shop.

#3. Yoga Membership Card

Get them a membership card to a local yoga studio that is close to either work or home. Some yoga studios sell cards which are good for 5, 10 or 20 yoga sessions - and have no expiry date. Shop around and find a yoga studio where your loved one can go - and can use whenever they see fit. Do NOT buy them a "one month membership" as most of it will probably go to waste and not be used. Buying a specific number of sessions is more economical.

#4. A really awesome skipping rope...

The trick here is that you should only buy this for a person who is really into cardio exercises, or even better a person who is already into skipping. There are a lot of unusual skipping ropes out there on the market now, which means you can choose from all sorts of materials, colours and functions.

#5. Sports Equipment

If your loved one is into football, get them football equipment. If they are into archery, get them archery equipment. If they are into baseball, get them a baseball bat and balls (baseball players typically only use their favourite glove).

#6. Hockey Equipment

Hockey isn't just a sport in Canada. It is a lifestyle and a national symbol. Even people who aren't hugely into hockey, still enjoy playing road hockey when given the opportunity. This is Canada. We ALL played hockey at some point when we were younger.

#7. Kettlebells

For the weight lifting aficionados. Or get them dumbbells. I love dumbbells. Barbells are also a possibility, but they take up a lot more space and require a bigger investment.

#8. Exercise Clothing

I don't mean Lululemon (in my experience most people who wear Lululemon don't actually exercise, they wear it because they like to pretend that they exercise). No, I mean clothing from a store like SportChek - where they sell exercise clothes that is meant to actually be exercised in and isn't designed to be a fashion statement. If you don't believe me visit the Lululemon at the Eaton's Centre and then visit SportChek and you will see the difference. SportChek sells clothes, running shoes, exercise/sports equipment, etc - for both men and women.

Heck, Golf Town and also Bass Pro has more actual "exercise clothes" than Lululemon does because it is meant to be functional first and isn't about being a fashion statement.

#9. Heart Monitor Watch / Pedometer

Useful for joggers, High Intensity exercises, seeking the Afterburn Effect, Interval Training and more.

#10. Camping / Hiking Gear

You can never have too much camping and hiking equipment. Always useful.

#11. Polarized Sunglasses

If they are going to be exercising outside then a good set of polarized sunglasses are very useful. You can also get them with prescription lenses.

#12. Heated Hoodie

For exercising outdoors during the winter you can't beat having a heated hoodie. Useful for exercising, shoveling snow (that counts as exercise) and many other activities outdoors. Uses a rechargeable battery pack to provide the heat energy.

BONUS GIFT IDEA: Wii Console + Wii Fit and/or Wii Sports

Why? Because if you are exercising and playing a video game, it is still exercising. So Wii Tennis, Wii Golf, Wii Bowling, Wii Boxing, all good fun and good exercise.

Wii Sports for example has been on the market since 2006 and has become very popular with homes for the elderly. I am even thinking of getting a Wii Console / Wii Sports for my mother, because it is something she would actually use.

And who doesn't enjoy Wii Boxing? Watch the video below of ex Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien beating Rick Mercer while playing Wii Boxing.

Autumn Cycling

The Fall months are arguably the best time of year to go bicycling. And it is a great time of year to do something with the whole family.

It is not too hot, not too cold, you can wear a hoodie or a short sleeved shirt (or both), and the chance of rain is minimal.

The cooler temperature means you can cycle harder and faster without overheating.

Visually the scenery becomes quite brilliant too, so take your camera with you as you cycle through pretty neighbourhoods in Toronto - or take the bicycle with you as you visit locations near Toronto.

One of my favourite places is Hilton Falls near Milton. It has both hiking and bicycle trails. And with the waterfalls as part of the scenery it makes for a fantastic place to stop and enjoy the wonder of nature.

Hilton Falls is one of the few waterfalls in Ontario which you can walk around behind the waterfalls and then plunge your arm into it. The Hilton Falls Conservation Area has multiple bicycle trails of varying intensity. More than enough to challenge experienced cyclists - and plenty for fun for people new to cycling in the great outdoors.

I am already planning another trip back there in October when the leaves will be different colours.

There are many other fun locations to go cycling in the region around Toronto.

Things to take with you:

Camera / cellphone

Water / Sports Drink


Umbrella (not for the rain, for walking around behind the waterfalls - trust me on this one)

Depending on where you are going you might also wish to take a map with out. A proper paper map is easier to read than your phone app. So if you are going on a bicycle / wine tour of the Niagara wineries, take a map with you - and don't drink and ride!

September 2014 Exercise Quotes - Robin Williams

Robin Williams was a huge advocate of bicycling and exercise overall. Here are just a few inspirational / exercise quotes from the comedy legend.

"Why do they call it Rush Hour when nothing moves? Except all the cyclists zooming by like everyone else is standing still!"
- Robin Williams

"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world."
- Robin Williams

"I was going to say diet and exercise, but the love thing's good too."
- Robin Williams (in Battle of the Smithsonian)

"Cricket is basically baseball on valium."
- Robin Williams

"I love running cross country....On a track, I feel like a hamster."
- Robin Williams

"And I love to ride my bike, which is great aerobics, but also just a great time for me to think, so it's like this terrific double bill."
- Robin Williams

"And if we bury you *** up, I have got a place to park my bike."
- Robin Williams

"I'm strong to the finish, 'cuz I eat me spinach."
- Robin Williams (in the 1980 film "Popeye")

"Death. To die. To expire. To pass on. To perish. To peg out. To push up daisies. To push up posies. To become extinct. Curtains, deceased, Demised, departed And defunct. Dead as a doornail. Dead as a herring. Dead as a mutton. Dead as nits. The last breath. Paying a debt to nature. The big sleep. God’s way of saying, 'Slow down.' "
- Robin Williams

We bid a fond farewell to Robin Williams. He was a truly unique inspiration to millions.

Dieting - How much dieting is actually necessary to achieve results?



I have noticed in the past that sometimes people don't actually diet or exercise that much and yet still manage to shed the pounds they were looking to shed. What are they doing differently? How much dieting [or exercising] is actually necessary to achieve results?

- Vanessa R."


Hello Vanessa!

Honestly, it varies with the person obviously, but the quick and easy answer is "not that much".

People can sometimes achieve amazing results just by reducing their caloric intake to the recommended amount for their body type (if they were over eating this will be more difficult for them to do because they will get cravings for their favourite foods) and combining their new "reasonable and balanced diet" with an exercise routine - something simple like jogging for 30 minutes every day or doing yoga for 30 minutes, or swimming, bicycling, or any kind of cardio activity.

30 minutes out of every day is a tiny portion of the 1,440 minutes a person has available in a day - we use 480 minutes just for sleeping. 30 minutes is only 2% of your day, but that 2% can make amazing differences if you use it for exercising.

For food it is all about calories in and calories out. The average female only needs approx. 1800 calories per day, and the average male only needs about 2000 calories per day. The exact number a person needs varies with their body type and their level of physical activity, which is usually based on their occupation. Athletes for example often consume 2500 to 3000 calories per day because they need the extra energy. But for the Average Joe, those numbers are unnecessary extra calories.

Unfortunately many people often eat out at restaurants, order pizzas, snack on junk food, etc - and their diet might be closer to 3,000 to 4,000 calories per day.

Let's pretend you're a man who we will call Average Joe who only needs 2,000 calories per day. At his normal weight he weighs 170 lbs.

But Joe likes eating junk food regularly and consumes closer to 2,100 calories per day, but he is only burning 2,000 calories per day during his daily activities.

Now here is the important part: 1 lb of fat is 3,500 calories.

Ergo if Joe keeps eating an extra 100 calories per day he will gain 1 pound every 35 days. He would gain roughly 11 lbs of fat in a year - and possibly start developing health problems if he does this over many years without changing his routine. In a single year (plus overeating during Xmas) he might go from 170 lbs to 185 lbs.

But lets pretend that Average Joe decided he wanted to reverse the process. By going on a healthy diet, and only eating 2,000 calories per day.

Joe's weight would then stabilize and stop going up. He would stay at 185.

Now he could try reducing his diet to 1,900 calories (or lower, which is problematic for your health if you go below 1,500) and would lose weight doing that (some of that would be muscle mass however, due to a loss of protein in his diet).

A better solution for Joe is to maintain that 2,000 calories / day routine - but ADD more exercise to his routine.

So for example if Joe weighed 185 lbs and then got into cycling and cycled 6 miles (or 10 km) every day then he would burn approx. 350 calories each time. (Note: It takes approx. 25 to 30 minutes to cycle that far at a leisurely pace - it isn't even cycling that fast.)

At 350 calories per day Joe would lose 1 lb (3500 calories) every ten days.

Which means Joe could be back at being 170 lb "Average Joe" in only 150 days.

And have more muscular legs to show for it. So truth be told he might actually be closer to 175 lbs, because he might put on 5 lbs of muscle (or more).

Note also that Joe could have also just skipped the diet and gone straight to cycling. At 2,100 calories - 350 calories, Joe would be losing 250 per day. Or 1 lb every 14 days. Thus it would take him longer to lose the weight, but he would eventually achieve his results (and still be able to enjoy the snacks he loves).

Eventually Joe would reach his goal and then would actually need to either decrease his cycling or increase his eating habits to balance his exercise activities with his diet. Preferably with healthier food so he puts on more muscle.

He might even add weightlifting to his exercise routine later - becoming a cycling and weightlifting aficionado. No longer is he "Average Joe". He would become "Hunky Joe".

So yes, back to Vanessa's question, people can make dramatic changes with relatively minor (but permanent) changes to their diet and exercise routine. It is really just a matter of math. Calories in vs calories out.

Note - The guy in the photo below is just a model. His legs are too skinny to be a cyclist.

Calorie Crunching in 6 Minutes

Lets pretend you weigh 200 lbs and you want to lose some weight - specifically fat off your belly, thighs, under arms, etc.

But you aren't sure what exercises you should be doing. Weight lifting or cardio? Or both? And if so, how much? And which exercises produce the best results?

Well when it comes to weight loss your primary goal is to have a caloric reduction. So you should be doing approx. 70% cardio exercises (because cardio exercises burn more fat) and 30% weight lifting (to maintain muscle tone).

So for example if you had 9 minutes to exercise you might do 6 minutes of cardio and 3 minutes of weight lifting. Which is a tiny amount really, but lets do the math anyway. You have 1,440 minutes in a day so 9 minutes is really only 0.00625 of your day.

So in 6 minutes the most calorie intensive thing you could do is bicycle as fast as you can - approx. 20 mph - which would burn 145.4 calories if you weigh 200 lbs.

In contrast 6 minutes of vigorous weight lifting would burn a mere 54.4 calories. So half that if you did it for 3 minutes, so 27.2 calories.

Grant total for 6 minutes of bicycling + 3 minutes of vigorous weightlifting is 172.6 calories.

It is not a lot. But lets pretend you did that every day for a year. 364 x 172.6 = 62,826.4 calories. Just under 18 lbs of fat. (Exact results will vary on the weight of the person.)

Do that 9 minute exercise routine every day, 2 or 3 times per day and you would lose between 36 and 54 lbs in 1 year. Likely more if you add in the Afterburn Effect and a healthy balanced diet. As your endurance builds and weight drops you will start going faster and pushing yourself harder, possibly exercising for a lot more than 18 or 27 minutes per day... In which case you will reach your exercise goals faster than expected.

27 minutes is less than 2% of your day. Isn't it worth 2% of your day to achieve your exercise goals?

INTERESTING NOTE: Compare below the stationary gym bicycle calories burned vs cycling on a real bicycle. You burn way more calories on a real bicycle because you are moving your own bodyweight, whereas on a gym spinning stationary bicycle you aren't moving any weight. You burn way more calories on a real bicycle - which means the people shelling out money for spin classes would be better off just buying a normal bicycle.

The chart below shows many different activities a person can do and how many calories a 200 lb person would burn in 6 minutes doing those activities. The two best for burning calories (and therefore losing weight) are running and bicycling.

Gym Activities Calories Burned in 6 Minutes (calculated for a 200 lb person)
Aerobics: low impact 45.4 Aerobics: high impact 63.6
Aerobics, Step: 6" - 8" step 77.2 Aerobics, Step: 10" - 12" step 90.9
Aerobics: water 36.3 Bicycling, Stationary: moderate, 150 watts 63.6
Bicycling, Stationary: vigorous, 200 watts 95.4 Calisthenics: Vigorous, jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, pullups 72.7
Calisthenics: Moderate, back exercises, going up and down from the floor 31.8 Circuit Training: w/some aerobic, minimal rest 72.7
Elliptical Trainer: general 65.4 Riders: general (ie., HealthRider) 36.3
Rowing, Stationary: moderate, 100 watts 63.6 Rowing, Stationary: vigorous, 150 watts 77.2
Ski Machine: general 63.6 Stair Step Machine: General, without supporting any bodyweight on hand rails  81.8
Stretching: Mild, Hatha Yoga 22.7 Teaching aerobics 54.5
Weight Lifting: Light, free weight, nautilus or universal-type 27.2 Weight Lifting: Vigorous, free weight, nautilus or universal-type 54.5
Training and Sport Activities Calories Burned in 6 Minutes
Archery: non-hunting 31.8 Badminton: general, social 40.9
Basketball: playing a game 72.7 Basketball: wheelchair 59
Basketball: shooting baskets40.9 Basketball: officiating a game 63.6
Billiards22.7 Bicycling: BMX or mountain 77.2
Bicycling: 12-13.9 mph, leisure, moderate effort 72.7 Bicycling: 14-15.9 mph, leisure racing, fast, vigorous 90.9
Bicycling: 16-19 mph, very fast, not drafting 109 Bicycling: > 20 mph, racing, not drafting 145.4
Bowling 27.2 Boxing: sparring 81.8
Boxing: punching bag 54.5 Boxing: in the ring 109
Coaching: football, soccer, basketball, etc. 36.3 Cricket: batting, bowling 45.4
Curling 36.3 Dancing: Fast, ballet, twist 43.6
Dancing: disco, ballroom, square, line, Irish step, polka 40.9 Dancing: slow, waltz, foxtrot, tango, fox trot 27.2
Fencing 54.5 Football: competitive 81.8
Football: touch, flag, general 72.7 Football or Baseball: playing catch 22.7
Frisbee: general 27.2 Frisbee: Ultimate 72.7
Golf: carrying clubs 40.9 Golf: using cart 31.8
Golf: driving range, miniature 27.2 Golf: walking and pulling clubs 39
Gymnastics: general 36.3 Hacky sack 36.3
Handball: general 109 Handball: team 72.7
Hang Gliding 31.8 Hiking: cross-country 54.5
Hockey: field & ice 72.7 Horseback Riding: general 36.3
Ice Skating: general 63.6 Kayaking 45.4
Martial Arts: judo, karate, kick boxing, tae kwan do 90.9 Motor-Cross 36.3
Orienteering 81.8 Polo 90.9
Race Walking 59 Racquetball: competitive 90.9
Racquetball: casual, general 63.6 Rock Climbing: ascending 100
Rock Climbing: rappelling 72.7 Rollerblade / In-Line Skating 113.6
Rope Jumping: general, moderate 90.9 Running: 5 mph (12 min/mile) 72.7
Running: 5.2 mph (11.5 min/mile) 81.8 Running: 6 mph (10 min/mile) 90.9
Running: 6.7 mph (9 min/mile) 100 Running: 7 mph (8.5 min/mile) 104.5
Running: 8.6 mph (7 min/mile) 127.2 Running: 10 mph (6 min/mile) 145.4
Running: training, pushing wheelchair, marathon wheeling 72.7 Running: cross-country 81.8
Running: stairs, up 136.3 Running: on track, team practice 90.9
Scuba or skin diving 63.6 Skateboarding 45.4
Skiing: cross-country, light effort, general, 2.5 mph 63.6 Skiing: cross-country, vigorous, 5.0 - 7.9 mph 85.7
Skiing: downhill, moderate effort 54.5 Skiing: downhill, vigorous effort, racing 72.7
Sky diving 31.8 Sledding, luge, toboggan, bobsled 63.6
Snorkeling 45.4 Snow Shoeing 72.7
Soccer: general 63.6 Soccer: competitive play 90.9
Softball or Baseball: slow or fast pitch, general 45.4 Softball: Officiating 36.3
Softball: pitching 54.5 Squash 109
Surfing: body or board 27.2 Swimming: general, leisurely, no laps 54.5
Swimming: laps, vigorous 90.9 Swimming: backstroke 63.6
Swimming: breaststroke 90.9 Swimming: butterfly 100
Swimming: crawl, moderate, 50 yds/min 72.7 Swimming: treading, moderate effort 72.7
Swimming: lake, ocean, river 54.5 Swimming: synchronized 72.7
Table Tennis / Ping Pong 36.3 Tai Chi 36.3
Tennis: singles, competitive 72.7 Tennis: doubles, competitive 45.4
Tennis: general play 63.6 Track & Field: shot, discus, hammer throw 36.3
Track & Field: high jump, long jump, triple jump, javelin, pole vault 54.5 Track & Field: steeplechase, hurdles 90.9
Volleyball: non-competitive, general play, 6 - 9 member team 27.2 Volleyball: competitive, gymnasium play 72.7
Volleyball: beach 72.7 Walk: 2 mph (30 min/mi) 22.7
Walk: 3 mph (20 min/mi) 30 Walk: 3.5 mph (17 min/mi) 34.5
Walk: 4 mph (15 min/mi) 45.4 Walk: 4.5 mph (13 min/mi) 57.2
Walk: 5 mph (12 min/mi) 72.7 Water Skiing 54.5
Water Polo 90.9 Water Volleyball 27.2
Whitewater: rafting, kayaking 45.4 Wrestling: one match = 5 minutes 54.5
Outdoor Home Maintenance / Improvement Activities 
Calories Burned in 6 Minutes
Carpentry, installing rain gutters, building fence 54.5 Carrying & stacking wood 45.4
Chopping & splitting wood 54.5 Cleaning rain gutters 45.4
Digging, spading dirt, composting 45.4 Gardening: general 36.3
Gardening: weeding 40.9 Laying sod / crushed rock 45.4
Mowing Lawn: push, hand 54.5 Mowing Lawn: push, power 50
Operate Snow Blower: walking 40.9 Paint outside of home 45.4
Planting seedlings, shrubs 40.9 Plant trees 40.9
Raking Lawn 39 Roofing 54.5
Sacking grass or leaves 36.3 Shoveling Snow: by hand 54.5
Storm Windows: hanging 45.4 Sweeping: garage, sidewalks, outside of house 36.3
Trimming shrubs/trees: manual cutter 40.9 Trimming: using edger, power cutter, etc. 31.8
Watering plants, by hand 22.7 Workshop: general carpentry 27.2
Yard: applying seed or fertilizer, walking 22.7 Yard: watering by hand, standing/walking 13.6
Indoor Home Repair / Improvement Activities
Calories Burned in 6 Minutes
Carpentry: finish or refinish furniture or cabinets 40.9 Caulking: bathroom, windows40.9
Crafts: Standing, light effort 16.3 Hang sheet rock, paper or plaster walls27.2
Lay or remove carpet/tile 40.9 Paint, paper, remodel: inside40.9
Sanding floors with a power sander 40.9 Wiring and Plumbing27.2
Home & Daily Life Activities Calories Burned in 6 Minutes
Child-care: bathing, feeding, etc. 27.2 Child games: moderate, hop-scotch, jacks, etc. 36.3
Cleaning House: general 27.2 Cleaning: light dusting, straightening up, taking out trash, etc. 22.7
Cooking / Food Preparation 18.1 Food Shopping: with or without cart 20.9
Heavy Cleaning: wash car, windows 27.2 Ironing 20.9
Making Bed 18.1 Moving: household furniture 54.5
Moving: carrying boxes 50.9 Moving: unpacking 31.8
Playing w/kids: moderate effort 36.3 Playing w/kids: vigorous effort 45.4
Reading: sitting 9 Standing in line 10.9
Standing: bathing dog 31.8 Sleeping 8.1
Vacuuming 31.8 Watching TV 9
Office Activities Calories Burned in 6 Minutes
Driving vehicle to work 18.1 Sitting: light office work, meeting13.6
Standing: filing, light work 20.9 Riding in a bus or vehicle to work9
Typing: Computer, electric or manual 13.6 Walking: work break31.8
Occupational Activities Calories Burned in 6 Minutes
Bartending/Server18.1 Bakery: general, moderate effort36.3
Building Road: hauling debris, driving heavy machinery 54.5 Carpentry Work 31.8
Coaching Sports 36.3 Coal Mining 54.5
Computer Work13.6 Construction: outside, remodeling50
Custodial Word: general cleaning, moderate effort 31.8 Electrical Work31.8
Firefighting109 Forestry, general72.7
Forestry: planting trees by hand54.5 Heavy Equip. Operator22.7
Horse Grooming54.5 Light Office Work 13.6
Locksmith 31.8 Masonry 63.6
Masseur, standing36.3 Moving / Pushing heavy objects >75 lbs. 68.1
Patient Care: Nursing 27.2 Plumbing 31.8
Police Officer: making an arrest 36.3 Printing: operator, standing 20.9
Sitting in Class 16.3 Shoe Repair: general 22.7
Steel Mill: general 72.7 Theater Work21.8
Truck Driving: loading and unloading truck 59 Welding 27.2

Old School Cycling

You don't need fancy equipment or clothes to get really into cycling.

Especially in the summer.

You don't need a new bicycle.

You just need a bicycle that works and is in peak condition.

You do not need a super fast lightweight racing bicycle that costs thousands of dollars. That is just completely unnecessary.

But what you do need is...

#1. A bicycle with working brakes and gears, with full tubes and treads that aren't worn to shreds.

#2. A good thick U-lock (because those sneaky bicycle thieves can cut through a chain lock or a cable lock in two snips of a bolt cutter).

#3. Something to carry water / snacks with you. A water bottle holder or even a backpack with water in it. Or a basket on your bicycle. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of water bottle holders to suit your needs. Or if you have your heart set on a basket there is a variety of front and back loading baskets available.

#4. The actual snacks and water to carry with you. Don't leave home without them.

#5. A helmet couldn't hurt you. Sure, it takes awhile to find one that is fashionable (they're all rather ugly) but certainly you can find one that you like. It is better than wearing a funny looking hat.

#6. Take your friends with you. You will ride further, faster and have more fun with friends.

#7. Dress to Sweat. You know you are going to so you might as well be comfortable.

#8. If looking to buy a new bicycle try to buy one that is comfortable to ride. Racing bicycles may be fast, but they're annoying uncomfortable for you back because the posture of leaning forward constantly hurts your back. Try a Cruiser style bicycle like the one above instead. Easier on the arms and you get to enjoy the view more.

#9. Retro Bicycles are in baby! They may seem old fashioned, but they can still pass the other suckas in an hurry if you pump those legs harder. But if you are looking to buy a retro bicycle remember to check that everything works and the bike is fully restored. Don't worry about rust on the frame so much, so long as the chain and the gears are rust free.

#10. Learn how to raise / lower your seat, adjust your handlebars, etc. Easy to do and there are plenty of bicycle mechanic websites out there with free advice on how to do those things and other more complicated mechanical skills. Learning how to properly oil (do NOT use WD-40!) and clean your bicycle is good advice too!

Things to do in Toronto for the Bicycle Savvy

Looking for summer activities you can do on your bicycle in Toronto?

The Bicycle Mechanic (Online)
Its online, but it offers lots of free advice on how to fix your bicycle. Having a broken bicycle is no excuse to not be outside exercising.

Get Your Bicycle Fixed / Tuned Up (Various Locations)
Visit one of the locations nearest you and get a professional tune up. Cycle Solutions (Cabbagetown), Sweet Pete's (Brockton Village), Mike The Bike (Chinatown), Ride Away Bikes (Little Portugal) and many more. See a list of Bicycle Mechanics Shops in the GTA.

BIXI (Multiple Locations Downtown)
Bixi is Toronto's bicycle rental program that you have probably noticed all over town. Its a tad over priced, but the bicycles are well-maintained and kept in peak condition so even if you don't own a bicycle you can still easily rent one. (Just remember to return it ASAP because the fees are charged by the hour.)

Toronto Island Bicycle Rental (Toronto Island)
You haven't really cycled in Toronto until you've biked around on Toronto Island. You can either rent a bike or bring your own! For couples they also have tandem bicycles.

Sugar Beach (Jarvis & Queens Quay)
Located near the Redpath Sugar Mill, Sugar Beach is a bicycle friendly location to go and relax and stare out across the lake. The location is more chic and sophisticated and has less kids running around too if you are into that sort of thing.

High Park (High Park)
The park is huge and there is everything from a petting zoo, tennis courts, baseball fields, places to feed the ducks, swimming pools, beautiful gardens - and lots of places to ride your bicycle!

Rosedale Ravine / Don Valley (Don Valley)
There is a tonne of bicycle trails / hiking paths around Rosedale and located in the Don Valley. You can get lost out there easily, riding in circles and getting lots of exercise.

Critical Mass (Spadina and Bloor)
The last Friday of every month, at 6 PM  - not just in the Summer - over a hundred cyclists gather on the SE corner of Spadina and Bloor and then as a group ride through the city. The route varies each time and there is usually a police escort these days (they arrest cyclists who ride through the red lights). Its a good way to meet other people who are into cycling and you will see a huge variety of weird bicycles too.
Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing and lets talk fitness!

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