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Women's cycling road race at 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games
How to Benefit from Cycling

The bike is a fantastic invention and cycling has many health and exercise benefits.  It can be used as a source of transportation, for competitive sport, as a positive and healthy exercise, or all of the above rolled into one.

There is an estimated 1 billion bicycles used worldwide today, which is twice the number of motor vehicles.  One study has shown that out of the 20 most desirable cities to live in the world, a majority of these cities have well developed bicycle communities and lanes.

Whatever your own reasons are for biking, or even if you are just looking at getting into this recreational sport, there are a few tips on how you can get the very most out of your cycling experience.

1. Ride Regularly for Good Health

Biking is medically proven to be good for the heart.  Studies have shown that regular cycling each and every day, even for as little as 30 minutes a day will lower your chances of heart disease by 50%.

You will want to push yourself a little past your comfort zone to have these results.  Build your cardio and endurance slowly, adding a little more on to your ride each day until you are accustomed to regularly breaking a sweat.

When you feel stronger, add in some light hills and increase the distance of your ride.  You do not need to go all out, but regularly using your bike as a workout machine for your body will help immensely with the health of your heart, lungs and overall well being of your body and mind. 

2. Do Not Keep Your Body Locked in One Position

One of the best things about a biking workout is that it has very little negative side effects.  Most sports have some negative impact on the body, such as the pounding of your heel on the ground with jogging, the constant impact against other athletes in contact sport or elbow problems that can develop in tennis after many years of whacking the ball.

Cycling however provides smooth fluid motions for your legs with no pounding or impacting.  In fact cycling is the choice of doctors for rehabilitation of knees and other sport injuries.

With that said, the one potential hazard you need to be aware of is that any position the body takes for too long, has the potential to become problematic.  As one chiropractor once told me, the only bad position, is the one that you do all the time.  So if you cycle a lot, stretch before and after you do.  Also take breaks and walk around a little if you cycle for hours at a time

3. Get Your Seat and Handlebars Adjusted to Fit You

What many people do not realize is that there are some seating positions in biking that are better than others and it all depends on your own body proportions.  Most bike shops can professionally adjust your seat and handlebars to best match your body type and height.

Your seat should be level to allow you to move around on it when required and to support the weight of your body.  You do not want to lean too far forwards or backwards to reach your handlebars, or be too low or too high.  These are just little details, but getting someone to professionally adjust your seat and handlebars for you, will give extra support for your back, shoulders, hands and neck in the long run.

4. Ride With a Friend

There is a reason why many birds fly together when traveling long distances.  They can go faster and farther as a group and build off each other's momentum.  The same is true for anything in life.  Whether one bikes for exercise, wishes to try using the bike instead of the car to go to work, or just does it for fun and peace of mind, it can be difficult to keep the discipline of riding regularly in the beginning. 

Once the habit is formed, it becomes hard to miss.  So what is the best way to make that habit stick?

Riding with a friend is absolutely the best motivator.  You depend on your buddy, and your buddy depends on you.  It provides companionship and enthusiasm which cannot be matched on ones own.  If you do not have a riding buddy, keep yourself open to other options.  There are often riding groups in town, and you do not need to be a racer to join them.

5. Be Good To Your Bike, And It Will Be Good To You

Home bike mechanics is no longer just for the hard core shop guys anymore.  The internet has become a massive storehouse of bike repair knowledge and bicycle repair books are available too.  It is an excellent investment in your sport to learn a few tricks on how to maintain and repair your bike when it wears down.

Keeping your bike clean is half the battle.  Look into putting together a tire replacement kit, so you can fix a flat on the road.  You can also very easily learn how to replace your chain when it wears down (and it will).  Chain tools, Allen keys, screwdrivers and pliers will form the base of your tools.  You might also want to invest in a half decent cycle repair stand which will hold your bike up and keep it steady while you clean or work on it.

In this article, I have pointed out how you can benefit from cycling. Biking is both a healthy and positive mode of transportation for the environment and your body.  Adding a few of these above tips into your riding lifestyle can go a long ways towards keeping you and your bike healthy and enriching your biking experience. 

About the Author:

Sam Walker has written numerous articles on the health benefits of cycling and home bike repairs.  He is part of a team that reviews quality outdoor gear at Gear Reviews Online, and is currently providing research and reviews of quality bike repair stands.


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