September 8, 2022 11:44 am
Physical activity is an important part of maintaining good overall health. But let’s face it: If you don’t enjoy your exercise routine, you’re unlikely to stick with it. Cycling is a fun form of exercise that has drawn an increasing following in recent years, becoming so popular during the pandemic that bike stores ran out of bikes. The benefits of cycling range from physical to mental, so if you’re looking to get out of a workout rut, it may be time to give it a try.
How Cycling Benefits Your Health
When it comes to exercise, almost any activity that makes your heart pump faster is beneficial. When you cycle, your heart rate increases, making it an effective form of aerobic exercise.
Riding a bike regularly can decrease your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, cycling:
- Boosts your mood
- Enhances balance and coordination
- Helps manage weight
- Improves lung health
- Provides a joint-friendly, low-impact workout
One other benefit of cycling is that you can adapt your workouts based on your fitness level and goals. Whether you’re riding a bike outdoors or participating in an indoor cycling class, you can challenge yourself further by ramping up your speed to improve your endurance or increase resistance to strengthen your leg muscles.
How Much Cycling Is Too Much?
Most adults should set a goal to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week or 75 minutes of strenuous activity a week. But there’s no one-size-fits-all prescription for how much you should cycle.
Depending on the intensity, speed and duration of your cycling workouts, they can be either moderate or strenuous. But you aren’t limited to the number of minutes listed above.
You may find that cycling provides you with a great outlet for stress relief, and that bike rides every other day or even daily are good for your emotional well-being. As with any activity, you’ll need to determine your own limits.
Listen carefully to your body, and take a break when needed. Rest days can be helpful, as they allow your body to recover after long or intense workouts. If you’re experiencing pain during or after a cycling workout, that’s your body telling you to take a break.
Staying Safe When Cycling
Safety is essential when riding a bike, especially if you’re cycling outdoors. Follow these tips to stay healthy on the road, trail or trainer:
- Wear the right gear. If you’re riding outdoors, wear a well-fitting helmet. If you are cycling after dark, put on reflective clothing, such as a glow-in-the-dark vest.
- Check equipment first. Before you hop on your bike, give it a good once-over to ensure it’s in proper working order.
- Start slowly. You can gradually increase your pace, resistance levels and the duration of your workouts as you build strength and stamina.
- Use good posture. Leaning forward and over your bike may feel natural, but sitting this way can cause a stiff neck and other aches. To cycle in comfort, choose a bike that is the right size for you and sit up straight when you are riding. If you notice pains in your knees and hips, your bike may need to be readjusted. Outdoor cyclists can schedule a bike fitting at a local bike store. If you take indoor classes, ask the instructor to help you ensure you are positioned correctly.
Looking for other tips about making exercise a regular part of your routine? Check out our blog on heart-healthy activity.
This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center