You don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to benefit from bicycling. Not only is it an excellent workout for your heart and lungs, but it strengthens lower body muscles without overstressing your joints. You’ll even work your upper body when climbing hills. Bicycling also gets you outdoors where the fresh air and sunshine can help improve your mood.
Before you hit the road, have your bike properly fitted to minimize discomfort, increase efficiency and prevent injury. Take your bike to a bike shop for adjustment or follow these tips:
- Raise or lower your bike seat so your leg can extend almost fully when the pedal is in its lowest position.
- Keep the seat level.
- Adjust the handlebars so you can reach them without straining. Your hands should grip the handlebars about one inch wider than your shoulders.
Before beginning a ride, warm up by pedaling in a low gear for about five to 10 minutes. Once you start, build up to about 80 to 90 revolutions a minute. Use a low gear when you need power, such as climbing a hill, and a high gear for speed. Near the end of your ride, cool down by pedaling slowly in a low gear to gradually lower your heart rate and prevent sore, stiff muscles.
If you’re new to bicycling, start with short rides on flat terrain. You can increase intensity by going faster until your endurance improves and then tackle longer and more challenging rides.