For decades we have known that a daily dose of exercise is good for our bodies. Some people go to great lengths to stay fit, paying fat hourly fees for personal trainers or shelling out thousands of dollars to get the latest home gym equipment. If you are interested in cycling, however, you don’t have to spend a fortune to partake in it. Cycling can be quite affordable and the benefits to your health make the initial cost of getting started more than worth the cost.
Benefits of Cycling
Whether you are already in great shape or just starting on your fitness journey, riding a bike has myriad benefits, including:
- Improved Sleep: Cycling helps to reduce stress and anxiety, two of the biggest reasons why people can’t get to sleep at night. Being overweight can also prevent you from getting fitful sleep, so biking is essential since it helps you lose and maintain your weight.
- Jumpstart Your Morning: Cycling gives your blood circulation a boost, which in turn invigorates your body. This helps you feel more energized not just in the morning, but throughout the day as well.
- Boosts Metabolism: Anytime you exercise your metabolism gets a boost. This converts your food to energy faster, helping you achieve or maintain your desired weight.
- No Experience Necessary: There’s an adage that says you never forget how to ride a bike, so if you haven’t ridden in years, it won’t be hard to start back up. But if you have never cycled before, it is also very easy to learn. There are even stationary bikes that are perfect for beginners since you don’t need to balance yourself to use them.
- Great for Rehabbing Injuries: Those with injuries may find it hard to do high-impact exercises, such as running and jogging. Cycling is not weight-bearing, so it allows you to start slowly and increase the intensity at your own pace as you heal.
- Cardiac-Friendly: Biking increases your heart rate which in turn helps you avoid cardiac conditions. These include heart attacks, high blood pressure, and even strokes.
- Improved Coordination: Bicycling forces you to balance on two wheels, so your balance and coordination are vastly improved. You may even find that your posture is better as well, even when you are not riding. As you age, the enhanced balance can prevent falls, giving you more incentive to make biking a long-term habit.
- Weight Loss: Depending on the intensity and speed of your ride, cycling can burn anywhere from 400 to 1,000 calories per hour. Burning calories leads to weight loss and overall better health. It also improves your muscle structure so you feel stronger and have more stamina and endurance.
Biking on the Street
Many cities and municipalities have designated bike paths on streets, providing cyclists with a safe place to pedal. However, not all thoroughfares have these paths, which means you have to sometimes bike in the street. You have to maintain a certain speed to bike on the street, which varies from city to city. This challenges you to keep up a good pace that gets your heart going and helps you burn more calories.
There are risks with road biking, though. Try to ride in numbers, as this alerts drivers to your presence for safety. Make sure to use a helmet and any other safety equipment as required by local law. Practice looking behind you to ensure you don’t swerve or fall and do not wear headphones or earbuds so you can stay alert to what is happening around you.
Getting an Exercise Bike at Home
If road biking is not for you, there are alternatives. Buying a stationary bike is an excellent investment, as you can stay inside in a climate-controlled area. Extremely high heat in summers and icy roads in winter are not an issue when you have a stationary bike. Plus, you don’t have to worry about UV rays sun burning your skin. There are some very expensive indoor bikes, but you can find a really good model for a pittance if you know where to look. You can find some great exercise bikes for less than $500.
Another option is to look in local consignment stores that sell used equipment at a lower price. They are usually in good or even like-new condition at a fraction of the brand-new price tag. If that doesn’t work, check the classified ads in your local newspaper, especially the Sunday editions that lots of people buy. There are also online classifieds where you may find a bargain-priced model that fits perfectly inside your home.
Going to the Gym
If you cannot find an inexpensive used bike or live in a small space with no room for one, then the gym is a great alternative. Sure, there are expensive, high-tech gyms with hefty fees, but you don’t have to spend next month’s rent to join a gym. Most cities have at least one gym with budget-friendly fees you can pay in monthly installments instead of yearly. Try the recumbent bikes that have ergonomic seats with back support while you are there.
How to Prevent Injuries
Biking is a low-impact and non-weight-bearing exercise that allows you to get or stay fit with a low risk of hurting yourself. There are still some safety measures you should take, though, to further prevent injuries.
- High Speed: Many injuries occur due to going at a high rate of speed, so try not to go too fast. Always keep an eye on the road ahead so you can avoid potholes or cracks that can cause you to lose your balance and fall or crash.
- Proper Back Alignment: Make sure you are using correct posture to avoid back strains.
- Take a Break: If you feel muscle strain or pain, it is perfectly fine to take a few days off to recover. Continuing to cycle through the pain could lead to a much more serious injury.
- The Right Fit: Some bikes are meant to be used by tall people, and others are designed for shorter individuals. Only use a bicycle that is the right size for your height, and adjust the seat to get the perfect fit.