Lose weight while biking--or gain weight! Unlike the ubiquitous miracle drugs, I can’t guarantee that biking will make you skinny. But I promise that if you bike regularly, you’ll get healthier. (Unless you are an endurance athlete already. Or an exception.)

The first year I biked for transportation I lost 25 pounds without dieting. I’m not unique. Several people have told me they lost 20 or 30 pounds their first year of bicycle commuting.

But other people have actually gained weight—and not just from muscle. One friend complained that bicycling made her hungrier and she gained weight. But she knew bicycling was making her healthier despite the weight gain because she felt stronger and more energetic. If she had monitored resting heart rate or cholesterol, she might have seen an improvement.

I’ve gained some of that weight back, but I haven’t lost the health benefits of bicycle commuting. Most of us who are overweight tend to have higher resting heart rate, higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, and lower strength and endurance. Most slender people have the reverse characteristics. But it is possible to be overweight with the physiology of a fit person, or slender with the physiology of an overweight person. It’s called “metabolically thin” or “metabolically obese”.

If you adopt a more active lifestyle, you might lose weight, especially if you pair it with healthy eating. Whether or not you lose weight, you will increase your fitness.

Here are some ways to increase the activity of your lifestyle:

Walk or bike for transportation Use the stairs instead of the elevator Park in the far corner of the parking lot when you do drive Use the bathroom on a different floor or further down the hall Try a treadmill desk, or stand at your desk