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Biking
Untitled Document

BIKING

Learn how Biking Can Be a Fun and Great Way to Stay in Shape!

bike, bikes, mountain bike, road bike, bike shop, biking, biking tips, best bike, bicycle, fitness, workout, exercise
Do you want to enjoy the beauty of nature and take in some fresh air while getting fit? If yes, then biking is the perfect workout option for you! Fitness experts agree that doing new activities is an excellent way to challenge your muscles and beat boredom and biking is anything but boring!  Biking is not only a fun for a great aerobic workout that strengthens muscles and adds to your overall sense of wellbeing.  And bike riding is very user friendly, placing much less strain on hip and knee joints than running, yet it still burns plenty of calories.

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. 
Here are some bike tips from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) for picking out a bike:

BIKE TIP #1: Seat or saddle.

Make sure the bike seat is level and that you don’t tilt forward or back, placing strain on your lower back, hands, or arms.  You also want the seat to be a comfortable distance from the handlebars, not too close or too far away.

BIKE TIP #2: Handlebars. 

The position of your handlebars will affect the comfort of your hand, shoulders, neck and back.  Taller riders should have lower handlebars in relation to the height of the bike seat.  According to APTA “elite cyclist” Eric Moen, the proper handlebar position should allow for a roughly 90 degree angle between the trunk and the humerus or arm bone. 

BIKE TIP #3: Knee-to-pedal and foot-to-pedal.

The angle of your knee to the bike pedal should be about 35-45 degrees.  The ball of your foot should be positioned over the middle of the pedal for the best leverage, comfort, and efficiency.

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.
If you’re really new to biking, find out if there’s a bike club in your area.  You’ll meet some interesting people and find trails and routes you may not discover on your own.  Once you have more experience on your bicycle consider signing up for a charity ride; many towns have annual rides that support causes from AIDs to breast cancer, and you not only be staying fit but helping others at the same time.

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MORE RELATED BIKING INFO

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.



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