You may have enjoyed riding your bike as a kid, but have you ever considered that you could have fun on a bike as an adult as well? Bicycling for exercise is a great way to get outdoors and have a good time being active. The best part is how great this activity can for your health. In this article, learn how you can get started with bicycling for exercise and how this great sport can benefit your health.
Tips for Getting Started
There a few things to keep in mind if you are new to bicycling. First, make sure that you get a helmet if you plan to use a bike outdoors and not a stationary bike - this will greatly reduce your chance of a head injury if you should fall.
Secondly, learn the rules of the road. You should ride with the flow of traffic and use arm movements to signal your turns. Watch out for people who may be opening car doors as you ride by, and be cautious while riding in traffic.
Lastly, keep in mind that even though bicycling for exercise may seem simple, it isn't for everyone. If you have any concerns about your health or chronic injuries and pains, ask your doctor before you start cycling regularly.
Types of Bikes
There are several types of bikes you can use to get some exercise. While stationary bikes are great for exercising right in your own home, road bikes give you the opportunity to get outside and can even be used to run errands or commute to and from work. If you want to bike on trails, consider getting a mountain bike, which is sturdier and has wheels to adapt to rough surfaces. Bicycle motocross, or BMX, is another great bicycling activity that involves going through courses filled with hills, ditches, sharp turns and other obstacles. While mountain biking and BMX will give you a harder workout, they are both more dangerous than road bikes or stationary bikes so consider taking lessons before trying these activities on your own.
There are several great health benefits of bicycling for exercise, including:
- Reduce the risk of heart disease: According to the British Heart Foundation, you can cut your risk of getting heart disease in half by cycling 20 miles per week. Your lower risk for cardiovascular disease can help you avoid potentially fatal incidents like a heart attack or a stroke.
- Lose weight: By cycling regularly, you can burn lots of calories and even start to lose pounds. According to one study, women who biked for just five minutes a day gained fewer pounds than women who didn't bike. An added bonus is that by keeping that extra weight off, you'll reduce your risk for other weight-related problems, including type 2 diabetes.
- Improve your endurance: Your fitness can improve with bicycling, especially if you ride at a steady pace and do some uphill biking. The more you push yourself, the better your endurance will be. If you get into off-road or all-terrain biking, then your endurance will likely improve dramatically.
- Build muscle tone: You can work more than just your legs when you go out cycling. One way to do so is to tighten your core as you bike so that your abdominal muscles get a workout as well. You can also lean down towards your bike handles so that your arms and back are also helping to support the weight of your body. The working of all of these muscles at once can greatly improve your muscle tone over time.
- Lower impact on your joints: Because there is a smooth, circular leg motion involved in cycling, it can be a great choice for people who suffer from joint problems. When you compare cycling to the hard impact with running or aerobics, you can understand why cycling can be beneficial for those who have issues in this area. If you do have major knee or hip problems, you should still consult your doctor before cycling regularly to make sure you can do this activity without causing further damage to your joints.
- Rehabilitate after an injury: Stationary bikes in particular are often used in physical therapy programs for those who are recovery from an injury. For knee or joint problems, the low impact of cycling can be a plus. It can also be a great way to get some physical activity in without working injured areas of the body too hard.
- Great for beginners: Cycling is one of the best options for people who want to work on getting fit but don't know where to start. Most people, even those who are a little heavier, can feel comfortable on a bike. Plus, it's easy to start off slowly and build up as you gain endurance.
There are a few other great benefits of bicycling for exercise that extend beyond the scope of your health, including:
- Cost-effectiveness: Cycling is a great exercise that you can do without having to go to the gym, and the equipment itself (just a bike and a helmet) is very affordable. You can even get a stationary bike in your home so that you can do your cycling exercises even during bad weather. By doing some of your exercise out of the gym and with affordable equipment, you can save a significant amount of money.
- Exposure to the outdoors: Many people prefer to bike outdoors than on a stationary bike because it allows them to get some fresh air and to interact with others. The freedom to explore your surroundings from a bike can be a great way to enjoy nature and your community. It may also be a good way for your to release stress or wind down after a long day of work.