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Monday
May102010

May Bike Month - A Great Time For Beginners to Peddle Their Way to Better Health

May is a great time to start up an exercise plan that includes getting outdoors. It’s the first full month of spring. The weather is warming up, but not quite hot yet, and it’s American Bike Month.

For those who have never been on a bike, consider this - it’s a low cost financial investment compared to a gym membership, and the health benefits are huge. Besides the obvious benefit of losing weight, cycling also helps improve:

  • back pain
  • knee joints
  • the heart and cardiovascular system
  • muscle tone in the lower body (legs, thighs, hips, and buttocks)

Improving back pain might sound surprising to some, but according to Cycling and Health - a website of the Center for Health of the German Sports Academy of Cologne - increasing circulation can have three main benefits:

  • The large muscles in the back strengthen and develop.
  • Increased blood flow strengthens the disks in the spinal column.
  • Cycling also helps stabilize the position of the disks in the spine in relation to each other.

Graphic courtesy of Fitness Insights by Jamie Atlas.

Cycling can also have a therapeutic affect on the knees, which can hurt because of a breakdown in cartilage caused by factors such as long-term high impact exercise or pressure from excessive body weight.

Low impact exercise increases blood flow to the knees, which in turn also feeds and strengthens the cartilage, according to Cycling and Health, which promotes cycling as one of the least stressful ways of exercising knee joints and strengthening cartilage.

The heart and cardiovascular system are also improved because of the increase in aerobic exercise, which increases blood circulation and strengthens the heart muscle. Experts at AdultBicycling.com find that cycling uses the “largest muscle group” in the body - the legs - which results in “raising heart rate to benefit stamina and fitness.”

The reasons for improvement in muscle tone are obvious, but for a full-body workout, it’s recommended that cyclists compliment their exercise routine with circuit training - a combination of high-intensity aerobics and resistance training, such as pull ups, sit ups, shoulder presses, etc.

Graphic courtesy of HASTE - Hub for Action.

Keeping the focus on cycling, after deciding that it’s something that you want to do - the next step is to buy a bike. The best and most concise place that I found to get information on different types of bikes is Jim Langley’s ‘How to Buy a Bike.’ He’s a bike afficianado and the page is pure, simple bike information.

After you buy a bike, then you need to maintain it. A great resource for ‘do-it-yourself’ advice is at Bike New York, which offers some of the following advice:

  • Lubricate your chain once every 100 miles or once every 5-10 bike rides.
  • Check that the brake pads make full contact with the rim. They should not touch the tire or dive into the spokes.
  • Use a pump with a gauge to inflate the tires to their recommended pressure, which is written on the side of the tire. Look for ‘inflate to 35-60 psi’ or ‘maximum inflation 120 psi.’.

If you get a bike this month, or you already have one, then you might want to check out the cycling events near you. They are going on throughout the country in honor of Bike Month. Two great resources for finding an event near you are Bikeride.com and the League of American Bicyclists. Ride safely and have fun.

 

Reader comments and input are always welcomed!

 

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Reader Comments (3)

Exercise reduces risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases; and improves quality of life for people of all ages. Additionally, regular exercise provides a myriad of health benefits for both men's health and women's health including a more positive mental outlook and increased energy levels.

December 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNitrogen Tyre Inflation

In choosing a bike, you must consider what is suitable for you physically. In doing so, you will be comfortable in exercising and be prevented from having strains from choosing the wrong bike.

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternitrogen tyre inflation

The circulatory and cardiovascular system – our heart is beating fast in order to pump blood in our body quickly, to supply oxygen to our muscles, it allows them to work properly. Our heart is pumping about 4 liters of blood in one minute, at rest. Our heart is also a muscle, if you exercise like cycling; our heart gets stronger and bigger like our biceps. A person who is taking part in a regular exercise activity can lower their risk of getting cardiovascular diseases more than those people who do not exercise.

January 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergarage equipment

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