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Health and Fitness News

Pedal Pushing & You

Get your exercise with biking.

When you were a child, you probably rode a bicycle around the neighborhood when you for countless hours. Feeling the wind rush through your hair as you sped downhill with no hands on the handlebars was something you’ve never forgotten. While many adults consider bicycles to be toys for kids, they’re missing out on an enjoyable and effective way to work out and see the world in a new light.

If you’re considering hopping back on the bike for exercise, here’s what you need to know.

Why Bike?

Anyone who knows how to ride a bike can take up cycling for exercise. All you need is access to a reliable bike, a helmet, and a safe place to ride. Never learned how to ride a bike? It’s never too late to learn. Ask a neighbor or get online to figure out how to ride a bike for the first time.

As a cardio and strength-training workout, biking strengthens and builds muscles and is good for your heart and lungs. It also burns calories and is an effective way to lose weight. When you’re biking at a steady speed, expect to burn up to 400 calories an hour. Want to burn more? Include hills or go faster.

While most biking is not a full-body workout, it definitely works your legs, glutes, and hips. Your core will also get a workout. Navigating hills and rough terrain with mountain biking provides more of a full-body workout and lets you really experience nature.

Unlike running, biking is a low-impact and non-weight bearing form of exercise, making it an ideal workout for people with knee, ankle, hip, or back problems. Like any type of exercise, biking boosts your mood and reduces your risk of disease.

What Bike?

Biking can be done indoors in your living room or outdoors on a road, mountain trial, or bike path. The type of bike you ride may depend on your workout goals. When purchasing a new bike, there are a lot of types to choose from. Here’s what you should know to make an educated decision.

Road bikes are meant for long rides on concrete or asphalt. They have thin tires with little tread, low handlebars, and a firm seat. They’re great for long rides with a group of cyclers.

Mountain bikes are designed for off-road terrain. With wider wheels and large treads, mountain bikes can handle rocks, tree roots, mud, and water. Their handlebars are higher to allow the rider to sit up straighter. Many bikes are made with front or back suspension for shock absorption.

For more relaxed riding or for short distances around town, you may want a cruiser bike. This is the type of bicycles you are likely to see at the beach. With a large, padded seat, limited gears, and little shock-absorption, cruisers are best for flat, consistent terrain.

If you’re looking for a functional, user-friendly bike to use around town on pavement, maybe even to ride to and from work, you may want a recreational or commuter bike. These versatile bikes have higher handlebars to allow the rider to sit more upright, while the relatively thin wheels allow the bikes to move quickly.

Serious triathletes may want to invest in a tri. These fancy bikes are designed for long distances at a fast speed.

How to Bike?

As with other forms of exercise, it’s smart for beginning cyclists to start slowly on a flat surface. Over time, beginners can gradually increase speed and try more challenging terrain as they get in better shape and have a better understanding of their bike’s abilities.

When biking for your workout, plan to ride between 30 and 60 minutes, most days of the week. Begin each ride with a 5- to 10-minute warm-up and end with a 5-minute cool-down.