Spin classes, group bike rides, e-bike docks, and Peloton bikes are popping up everywhere.
There must be something to the hype, but what’s so special about cycling?
Cycling is not just exercise – it’s also a mode of transportation.
Cyclists range from fierce athletic competitors to joyriders who just want to experience their local scenery to commuters just trying to get from point A to point B safely.
You may have ridden a bike as a kid but fell out of the habit as you got older.
But you can work cycling back into your life, and it happens to have a lot of health benefits.
It’s a great source of cardio exercise and can help you maintain your sense of balance.
If it’s been a while since you’ve ridden a bike you may feel intimidated, but you don’t have to worry.
You can start your journey to a healthier you without worrying about pulling a muscle or otherwise hurting yourself.
Let’s pedal forward and talk about why cycling may be a good fit for you.
What Are The Benefits Of Cycling For Your Health?
No matter where you’re starting on your fitness journey, cycling can be a great place to start.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced fitness fanatic, cycling can vary in intensity to suit your own needs.
It’s not just your physical health that can be elevated by cycling, either.
Your mental health may improve as you go.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of cycling.
1. It’s Low Impact And Beginner Friendly
Even if you haven’t ridden a bike before, stationary bikes are very simple and easy to use.
Standard biking requires some extra balance and learning curves, but stationary bikes erase those obstacles.
Low intensity biking is a great way to ease your way back into activity if you’re recovering from an injury or haven’t been active in a while.
Low intensity cycling is also easy on your body and joints.
It’s a lower impact exercise than running, for example.
If you have stiffness or joint issues, especially focused in your lower body, cycling is a great option.
2. It Can Improve Your Balance And Posture
When you’re cycling, you have to keep your bike stable and upright.
This will improve your coordination and balance.
Your gait can also be improved by cycling, because of the strength, cardio and balance benefits.
Gait, another word for walking, is something that changes, especially as you age.
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3. It’s Good For Your Heart
Cycling is a great cardio workout because it raises your heart rate.
This improves your overall fitness while also reducing your risk of heart disease.
Lowered cholesterol is linked to cycling, which can reduce your risk of a stroke or heart disease.
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Studies have shown that cycling boosts good cholesterol levels while also lowering bad ones – LDL and triglyceride.
4. It Helps Build Leg Strength
This isn’t just a cardio workout (even though it’s a good one) – you’ll also be building up strength in your legs.
Your quadriceps, glutes, calves, and hamstrings are all active when you’re cycling.
You’ll be able to build strong muscles, and you’ll get to do it without stressing your joints too much.
5. It Can Improve Your Mental Health
As you’re focusing on your environment and your body when you’re cycling, you’re living in the present moment.
Cycling can lessen your feelings of stress and anxiety.
Studies have found that cycling can improve your mental functioning.
It’s helping because you’re moving your body, allowing you to feel less listless and lethargic.
Planning and remembering your route for traditional cycling can also help keep your memory and cognitive function strong.
6. It’s Good For The Environment
If you take your bike instead of your car, even just once in a while, that means one less car on the road.
When you’re cycling places, you don’t have to sit in traffic for extended amounts of time or worry about finding parking in the city.
If you are planning to go to a place a tad too far to walk to, but pretty close by car, that’s a great time to sub in a bike ride.
How To Prepare For A Bike Ride
If you’re interested in trying cycling, it’s important to talk about some of the risks and how you can best be prepared for your first rides.
All new activity needs to be approached safely so you don’t injure yourself, which would discourage you from returning to what could be a beloved activity.
Here are some tips for enjoying cycling safely.
1. Talk To Your Physical Therapist
As important as following traffic laws is making sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard physically.
Your physical therapist will make sure you’re not pushing past your limits as you get into this new activity.
They’ll help you understand where your limits are so you don’t experience excessive soreness or fatigue, or worse – an injury.
2. Make Sure To Warm Up First
It’s important to warm up before exercising, regardless of what you’re doing.
This helps you avoid injuring yourself by preparing your muscles for what they’re about to do.
This means easing into your ride.
Start slow, and ramp up to a higher intensity after your body is used to it.
If you’re using cycling as a way to ease back into physical activity after recovering from a sports injury, physical therapy can help advise you on the best path.
3. Be Safe
It’s important to know the traffic laws here in DC so you can focus on the most important part of cycling – your safety.
In general, you have the same rights and responsibilities on the road as somebody would in a car.
For more specifics, the Network of Independent Bicycle Crash Attorneys has a useful page that can help.
When you can, it’s a good idea to stick to streets with bike lanes.
It’s also a good idea to wear protective gear, especially a helmet.
If you want to listen to something during your ride, you can only have one earbud in at a time by law.
Make sure you’re wearing clothing that’s appropriate for cycling as well.
You don’t want to wear loose, flowy clothing that could get caught in your bike chain, for example.
Don’t forget about your exposed skin, too, and use sunscreen if you’re going to be out in the sun.
4. Enjoy Yourself!
Most important of all, enjoy your new hobby.
Cycling is more than the sum of its parts, so you can enjoy an experience that goes beyond exercise and transportation.
You can be out there pushing your limits with the wind in your hair, getting your heart rate up.
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today
Cycling is a great way to stay active, but if you’ve had an injury in the past, you may be wondering how to do it safely.
Here at Capitol Physical Therapy, we can help guide you through your cycling journey so you can experience the health benefits of cycling without any of the drawbacks.
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005
9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC