Being Healthy Is as Easy as Riding a Bike
06.10.2013, 9:55 CDT | Posted In: Health & Beauty
Itching to get out of the house and experience the great outdoors this summer? Why not knock out your daily exercise while you’re at it?
Going for a bike ride is a great way to burn some calories while exploring your city and enjoying the fresh air. In fact, cycling is one of the best ways for you to achieve health and fitness, providing an excellent source of cardio while utilizing a variety of commonly overlooked muscle groups.
Biking by the Numbers
Biking has been proven to have significant health benefits as well—people who cycle regularly live longer than those who do not.1 One study found that three 45-minute bike rides per week resulted in subjects being 9 years “biologically younger” even after considering other influencers such as body mass index (BMI) and smoking.1
And, as with other physical activities, regular cycling can help protect you from developing certain types of cancers including breast and colon cancer and diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis.2
But, before you just jump on your bike and start pedaling around your neighborhood, there are a few things you should take into consideration to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride.
You don’t need to go out and buy a top-of-the line bike and cycling clothing, but you will need these basic essentials:
- Helmet—This should go without saying, but don’t ride without one.
- Water bottle—Get one that attaches to your bike. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially as your endurance increases and you begin riding for longer periods of time.
- Pump—A portable pump that attaches to your bike could be the difference between walking your bike home with a flat tire or enjoying the rest of your ride.
- Bright clothing—Wear bright clothing to ensure that other motorists can see you at all times.
- Sunscreen—As with any outdoor activity, make sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen like the Obagi® Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50 to protect against the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays.
Rules of the Road
As with any new sport, it’s critical to learn the rules before you begin. In the case of cycling however, the rules are the law, and they are crucial to your safety and well being:
- Obey all signals and traffic signs.
- Ride with the traffic.
- Use the rightmost lane in the direction you are traveling.
- Signal turns and always check behind you before switching lanes.
- Use a front white light and red rear light and reflectors at night or when visibility is poor.
When sharing the road with other motorists and cyclists, it’s also important to be aware of your surroundings, which includes riding outside the door zone of parked cars, riding where other drivers can see you, and making all of your intentions clear to others.
Now that you’ve got your gear and you understand the rules of the road, there’s only one thing left to do—get the most out of your ride:
- Start slow—Even if you’re already in good shape, cycling uses different muscles than other exercises and it will take time for your body to get used to the new types of stress.
- Shifting—As you approach a hill, anticipate you will need an easier gear and shift a few seconds ahead of time while you still have momentum. This will make climbing the hill smoother and easier.
- Precision steering—Avoid looking down at your tires. Instead, keep your eyes focused approximately 20 to 30 feet in front of you. This will help eliminate constant steering corrections and will keep you and your bike in a straight line.
Not only can biking help you live a healthier life, but just imagine all of the beautiful places you could see along your journey.
1. 30 reasons to take up cycling. BikeRadar Web site.
http://www.bikeradar.com/road/fitness/article/30-reasons-to-take-up-cycling-23965/. Accessed May 13, 2013.
2. The benefits of physical activity. Harvard School of Public Health Web site
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/staying-active-full-story/. Accessed May 13, 2013.