Learn how Biking Can Be a Fun and Great Way to Stay in Shape!
While you may think you have to live near a park or trails to ride a bike, almost all cities have plentiful bike lanes, and if you choose the right type of bike, plan your route, and follow the rules of the road, you'll find biking can be the perfect workout.
WHAT KIND OF BIKE SHOULD I CHOOSE?
If you’re a beginning cyclist, a city or hybrid bike—a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike—is perfect as city bikes are designed for everyday riding on relatively smooth terrain. If you want to cycle on dirt trails, a mountain bike with thick, nubby tires and plenty of gears is the right choice, especially if you’ll be climbing a lot of hills. More experienced cyclists who ride exclusively on pavement usually ride road bikes that are extremely light with super-skinny tires.
TIPS TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT BIKE
To reduce the chance of injury, it’s important to ride a bike that fits you properly. A good bike shop should have a specialist who can help you select a bicycle.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO GO BIKING?
Although they may not strike you as the most fashionable item, spandex bike shorts with a padded crotch and seat will provide the most comfort, especially on longer rides. Now you can find some bike shorts that aren’t as tight and clingy yet still include padding. Sturdy shoes such as cross trainers are recommended; if you plan on doing a lot of serious mountain biking you can purchase mountain biking shoes, a cross between a running shoe and a hiking boot with lots of support. Most people who ride road bikes wear bike shoes that fit nicely into toe clips on the pedals, a necessity for serious road biking. If you’re just riding for fun and fitness, any good workout wear and shoes will do fine with the exception of flared pants, such as yoga pants, that can get caught in your bike’s gears. And the most important thing to wear when bike riding is, you guessed it, a well-fitting helmet. Research shows that bicycle helmets can reduce head injuries by up to 85 percent, and in some states it is illegal to ride a bike without one.
HOW TO MAKE BIKING A PART OF YOUR FITNESS ROUTINE
As with any new exercise, it’s best to start slowly and gradually build the time you spend on your bike or you’ll risk soreness, fatigue, and even injury. Try to cycle at least three times a week, but don’t ride for more than an hour until you’ve gotten the hang of it. Proper pedaling makes for an easier ride. Fluidity of the muscles in the front and back of your legs is important because these are the muscles that exert the most energy when bike riding. Try to apply an even amount of pressure through each revolution as you pedal, and avoid stomping down hard on the pedals; push down and then pull the pedal back evenly. As you gain in strength and flexibility, you man need to recheck the fit of your bike.
Article Written By: Julie Mitchell; Julie is an accomplished writer from San Francisco who loves ballet, yoga, walking, cooking and reading. Her experience as a wife and mother of two lend to her articles and blogs for DivaVillage.com and VillageMAMA.com in the areas of wellness, fitness, beauty, parenting and food.