There are dozens of ways to get into good physical condition including aerobics, running and yoga, yet I believe cycling is one of the best and most enjoyable.
If you’ve struggled to get into shape, it is quite obvious you’re not alone. It isn’t so hard to get started, but it is difficult to keep it up. Keeping up the fitness program that you’ve started over the long run is one of the major issues. Excuses seem to pile up, muscles aches, joints hurt, no time today, it isn’t working well with your schedule; then pretty soon you’ve talked yourselves out of it.
Maintaining the necessary motivation, especially when the sun isn't shining or you are tired from work, or there is something you want to watch on the television...all can seem like good reasons NOT to get out on your bike (or do any other exercise).
I believe cycling can make these arguments less substantial by allowing us to overcome our excuses. Here's why:
Low Impact - Bicycling is much easier on the joints. It doesn’t jar the body and stress the joints, which may occur with running or jogging. You’ll last longer and have less joint pain. Cycling is often used in the rehabilitation of joint surgeries because it is low impact.
Slow warm-up - It is easier to start slowly and warm up on a bicycle. You can do this with other activities but it usually takes a more concentrated effort than with cycling. Cycling at low speed is really very easy! Your muscles will like you better and treat you more sympathetically.
Fresh air and Sunshine - Most outside activities will have this in common with cycling. Fresh air is obviously healthier than the stale, circulated air in the house or gym. Sunshine (hopefully more often than not), provides vitamin D and has been reported to boost seratonin levels. The feeling of being outdoors and 'doing something' also has a very positive impact on your wellbeing.
Cardiovascular benefits - Once you warm up and increase your tempo, cycling can be a very good cardiovascular workout. It does take effort to reach this level, but if you work up to it slowly you’ll find out that it becomes easier to reach the level or a good cardiovascular workout and also easier to maintain. Cardiovascular workouts are major keys to improving fitness levels thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks, arteriosclerosis and other forms of poor health.
Weight - many people could do with losing a few pounds. Cycling is one of the best and easiest ways to help control weight issues, which also has many other related health benefits - including feeling good.
Variety – A nice aspect of cycling is you can alter your bicycle routes to take in new scenery. This keeps the mind fresh and reduces the boredom of repetition. Eventually you’ll want to vary your routes and distances for enjoyment and to challenge yourself. Take the opportunity to better explore your neighbourhood, perhaps visiting a new place each week.
Our society has led us to believe that once we turn sixteen we have the right to adulthood and vehicles. We’re taught to shed adolescence and with it the walking and bicycling we once used to get to town, the ballpark or to a friend’s house. What a shame this is because we also gave up the keys to fitness, adventure and enjoyment.
We can take this back with a vengeance by dusting off the bike and riding for fun and fitness once again. I promise that, once over the initial hurdle of leaving the car keys at home, you will feel better and happier, fitter than ever, and your life will have an extra spring in its step.