sweating for sweets

How far do I have to ride that bike?

May is National Bike Month, so what does all that wheeling around do for us and most importantly what kind of calorie burn does biking provide? Well, it all depends on what you are riding, where you are riding it, and how long you go until your bottom needs a donut more that your stomach! Whether you choose a leisurely bike ride on one of those sweet beach-cruiser bikes, a sprint on a 10-speed, or a speedy race in a spin class, you’ll torch a few calories and earn a sweet reward.

Like with any form of exercise, duration and intensity are the keys for maximizing the burn. The best things about a bike ride are that you can cruise through some amazing scenery, like along the beach or in the mountains; and you get to sit down the entire ride. Spin classes have become quite the rage with darkened rooms, blaring music, and monitors that show you where you rank against others in the class.

Here are some calorie burns for the different levels of biking (based on a 150-pound person).

A leisurely 30-minute ride on your Schwinn burns about 136 calories. This is an under 10-mph speed. The reward: ¼ cup guacamole with 1 sliced medium red bell pepper.

Kick your ride up a small notch to 10 to 12 mph, and you earn  ½ cup of fro-yo (200 calories) for that same 30 minutes.

If you put it in race mode, 14 to 16 mph, you earn a slice of pizza (340 calories) in 30 minutes. I think I might have an appetite for more than one piece though, so I might have to ride an hour or more.

In beast mode where you are covering more than 20 mph, like you’ve got the yellow jersey on, you can burn 544 calories in that same 30 minutes. The reward for this burn could be a Dunkin’ Donuts medium frosted-mint, chocolate-chip coffee coolatta (with skim milk of course), which takes about as long to say as the ride itself.

And then there’s the spin class. You can torch anywhere from 500 to 700 calories in a typical 50-minute class. To get an accurate calorie count, you really need to wear a heart-rate monitor on your chest since wrist monitors don’t always keep good count and you may not get credit for some of those calories you’ve burned. After you’ve spun your way into exhaustion, congratulate yourself with a 12-ounce margarita on the rocks!

Finally, let’s not forget that ditching your car and biking to work – weather permitting, of course – could save the planet as well as your waistline, which is a win for all.