On Your Bike!

If the Olympic success of our cycling teams and Bradley Wiggins latest records has inspired you to get on your bike, you are heading in the right direction to a total body workout.

Whether you are ready to tackle the great outdoors or are hanging away those clothes that have been lurking on the exercise bike now couldn’t be a better time to start cycling.  While the weather is still fine cycling can be the most fun and enjoyable way of getting fit and burning calories.

The British Medical Association estimates that cycling 20 miles a week can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 50%, and that the tremendous health benefits outweigh the risk 21 to 1.  Being able to incorporate aerobic exercise into your daily routine, not needing any specialist training,  ‘once learnt never forgotten’  and needing minimal equipment are all good reasons to give cycling a go, but just look at the health benefits:

1. Low impact exercise, easy on the joins, hips and knees.

2. Each part of your body is involved with cycling allowing a total body workout.  If you do it regularly it will strengthen your leg muscles and assist with mobility of hip and knee joints.

3. Improves the muscle tone of your legs thighs and hips.

4. Physical activity serves as a regulator to relieve stress balance between exertion and relaxation, important to the body’s equilibrium.

5. Helps to build stamina, makes you breathe deeper and perspire more giving a feeling of enhanced body temperature.

6. Works all muscles in one activity for trimmer toned thighs, backside and calf muscles.

7. Helps to control blood pressure.

8. Cycling minimises the risk of coronary heart disease. Aerobic exercise gives your heart blood vessels and lungs a workout thereby reducing the risks of heart problems.

During cycling most of the body’s muscles are activated, the leg muscles are responsible for the pedalling movement, the abdomen and back muscles stabilise the body on the cycle and cushion external influences, and the shoulder—arm muscular system supports the body at the handlebars.  All this trains and tightens up the muscular system, making it stronger and able to function efficiently.

If you are sedentary, a week of inactivity can reduce the strength of the muscular system by up to 50% and can harm muscles long term.  This is particularly true of older people as ageing causes muscles to shrink, so start with slow cycling to build up stamina and gradually increase your time and effort.

Depending on your weight and exertion level cycling can burn off between 75-670 extra calories in a half-hour cycle session.

30min cycling (dependant on weight and exertion) will burn:

* Recreational, 5mph: 75-155kcal
* Moderate, 10mph: 190-415kcal
* Vigorous, 15mph: 300-670kcal

Safety when cycling

* Make sure your bike is maintained regularly.
* Carry a basic toolkit and a spare inner tube.
* Follow the Highway Code.
* Wear bright, visible clothing and don't forget lights in poor conditions.
* Wear an approved safety helmet, off road as well as on road.

Alternatively dust off the static cycle and start burning calories.  The Kindle makes it very easy to cycle inside without getting bored!

Always consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine. If you choose cycling, perform it at a level where you can carry on a conversation or speak clearly while exercising. Otherwise, you may be exercising too strenuously for your fitness level.