Staying Fit & Having Fun - A Healthy Spin on Things!
About Three years ago I decided that jogging was going to do my knees in and it just wasn't so enjoyable for me anymore. That's when I started evaluating my choices based on my age, my location and my exercise time constraints
I live in California (I'm lucky to have decent weather most of the time), in a small town with beautiful rolling hills and lots of horse ranches and vineyards. I looked around at what people who came to visit did, (besides all the touristy things like wine tasting and eating pastries), and realized that a majority of them cycled. Turns out there are an amazing amount of great cycling routes right outside my front door.
I started my cycle fitness by taking spin classes. It may not be necessary for everyone to start this way, but it gave me the confidence to know that I had built up the stamina for staying out for an hour or two on my bike. Another way to do this, is to purchase a "trainer" for your road bike. It is a stationary device in which you place your bike and do your work out without leaving your house, garage or where ever you place your trainer and bike combo. This is also a good way to get to know your bike, how to shift the gears, where to place your hands, etc.
Now it was time to do some serious cycling, so I signed up for a few local events. I started with the 50 mile rides and worked up to the 100 miles rides. Now I am hooked! What a great way to get out, see the beautiful countryside and get invigorated.
Burn calories and boost your cardiovascular health. Biking is a low-impact way to accomplish both of these. It's an idea activity if you have lower-back or knee problems.
Before exercising, Stretch out. Do gentle movement-based stretches like arm circles and walking lunges to increase your range of motion. After your ride, when your body is sufficiently warm, switch to held stretches, like hip flexor stretch (good for hips tight from sitting at a desk).
When considering which bike to purchase...
First, decide what type of riding fits your lifestyle and agenda. For trail riding, choose a rugged mountain bike. For riding long distances on paved roads, choose a lightweight, speedy road bike. For commuting to work or running errands (a great way to burn calories while you accomplish daily tasks) consider a hybrid bike, which combines some features of mountain and road bikes.
Does your bike fit you properly?
As a general guideline, you should be able to stand over the bike, with your feet on the ground, with an inch or two of clearance between your tailbone and the top bar of the bike. The saddle should be sized to support your sit bones but not your entire rear-end.
Choose a bike based on how comfortable you feel on it, how easy it is to switch gears and whether you feel confident on it.