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Cycling for Fitness

"Pedal Your Way to a Fitter You"
By: James BarramedaCycling for Fitness

Cycling is one of the easiest and most fun exercises you can ever try.  It brings with it a myriad of health benefits and it can be performed by almost anyone. The best part about cycling is that it can burn around 300 calories per hour…am I getting you interested?

Let’s discover how cycling can be part of your road to achieving fitness!

The benefits                                               

Riding a bike can be as easy as…well, riding a bike, so you’d think that the activity wouldn’t do much good for you, right?                                                                                                                    

Wrong! Cycling can actually bring a long list of physical, mental, practical and environmental benefits. Here are some of the good “side-effects” of riding your bicycle every day:

1) You’ll be stronger – yes it builds muscle strength, but not just in your lower half: it actually involves every single muscle group of your body.

2) You’ll have more toned muscles – say goodbye to sagging thighs. After cycling for a while, you’ll notice an improvement in muscle tone in your legs, thighs, buttocks, and hips.

3) Your knees and joints will not be overused – if you’re going to choose which form of exercise is more knee and joint-friendly, it’s cycling.

4) You’ll have better stamina – if you’ve managed to include cycling in your daily routine, you’ll notice that your usual trips will become less tiring each day. That’s because you can develop stamina with regular exercise.

5) Your heart will be stronger – riding a bike to work can actually increase cardiovascular fitness by 3 to 7 percent. In fact, according to the British Medical Association, if you ride your bike 32 kilometers weekly (or about 4.5 km per day), you’re reducing your risk of developing coronary heart disease by 50 percent!

6) You’ll lose weight – if you want to fit back into your tight dress or jeans, it’s time to take your bike around more regularly. Cycling just for half an hour every day for a year can make you lose 11 lbs. of fat…and that assumes you don’t change a single thing about your diet.

7) You’ll improve your body coordination – cycling is an exercise that involves your entire body. Doing it for a while can improve your body-eye, arm-leg and foot-hand coordination.

8) Your stress levels will plummet – as with any exercise, cycling regularly can reduce stress and help you steer clear from depression. It also gives you a natural “high” so you basically become happier and more confident.

9) You’ll save money to buy stuff you like – you may not notice but transportation costs can eat up a huge chunk from your monthly budget. If you ride your bike to and from your school or workplace, you can save several thousands of pesos a month from gas and parking fees!

10)  You’ll help save the environment – by choosing to use a bicycle as a mode of transportation, you’re doing your share to save the planet.

Are you getting pumped up to incorporate cycling into your daily routine? Before you start running to the shop to buy a bike, you need to know some important reminders:

Get your doctor’s green light

Cycling may be easy for most people but just like any exercise, it entails a certain level of fitness. You may have an existing medical condition that limits you to do certain activities. Remember that riding a bike isn’t any different from them.

Start near and slow

Always start near, slow and in lower repetitions then gradually increase the pace, frequency and distance after a few weeks of getting used to. For example, when traveling from your home to your office a few blocks away, alternate cycling with your usual commute twice to thrice weekly.

Safety first

Let’s start with the outfit. Make sure you wear a proper fitting helmet or headgear, elbow and kneepads whenever you get on a bike. You may look a little silly to some, but if in case an accident happens, your gear will provide extra protection to minimize (if not completely prevent) potential injury.

Wear clothes that don’t limit your range of motion or get in the way of your bike.  That long and cute flowing skirt that lead actresses wear in movies while riding a bicycle isn’t safe for daily travel: the cloth can get caught in your bicycle chain or pedal and cause an accident. Best to choose stretchable clothes that hug the body.

Stationary bike

If you aren’t really an outdoors kind of person or if you live in a densely-populated city where cycling in busy streets can be dangerous, you may choose to buy a stationary bike. With this exercise equipment, you can exercise while watching TV or listening to music.

You don’t also need to worry about the weather – rain or shine, you can do your usual 30-minute workout at the comfort of your own home. Visit a local sports store that sells exercise equipment and ask for the stationary bike options.

Happy biking!

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