Cycling for better health
with advice from Anna Dark
How are those resolutions coming? Are you cooking more at home? Have you seen your dentist (or at least made an appointment for your annual cleaning)?
If you’re looking for a way to increase your activity, cycling or bike riding is a great way to be active.
Anna Dark, the Fitness Director of the Take Charge Fitness Program (a wellness facility run by Physiquality member Clinton Physical Therapy Center in Tennessee), says that cycling has many health benefits. Cycling is an aerobic activity, which is great for your heart and circulation. Going for regular bike rides also increases muscle strength and flexibility, while also improving joint mobility and bone strength.
Like most exercise, cycling offers mental and emotional benefits that help individuals cope with stress, even when you’re on a stationary bike. “And cycling is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, which in itself can help individuals feel better emotionally!” Anna adds.
If you’re serious about committing to regular bike riding, Anna recommends going to the local bike store to choose the proper bike. Consult with the staff about the type of bike that might be best for you, a road bike, mountain bike or a hybrid, based on where you’re planning to ride. And, adds Anna, they will make sure that your bicycle is properly fitted to your body.
Anyone new to cycling must have the proper safety equipment if they will be riding outside, as they’ll be sharing the streets with cars, pedestrians and other bicyclists, reminds Anna. Your bike should be fully equipped with safety features like reflectors and flags in order to be visible, especially at night. Check the air in your tires regularly in order to keep them fully inflated. And make sure that you have the appropriate gear to protect yourself, including a helmet, reflective vest and gloves.
When you’re going out on the road, says Anna, be sure to choose a route that you’re familiar with. This will give you confidence while riding, making the ride less stressful. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings, especially other motorists and traffic. And make sure to use hand signals to let others know where you’re going.
Lastly, have fun! Cycling allows you to enjoy the scenic route while bettering your health. And that’s something to celebrate.
For further reading, look through our selection of articles on bicycling, in addition to the below links:
The top 5 benefits of cycling. Harvard Health Letter, September 2016.
Andrew, Linda Wasmer. Bicycling can sharpen your thinking and improve your mood. Psychology Today, May 25, 2015.
10 smart rules to bike safety. City of Madison, WI.