Cycle and Get Fit
By Maria Anderson
Getting into cycling may be your key to having fun, staying fit and looking great this winter. In the cooler winter weather it is time to embrace the national cycling obsession and turn it into a healthy habit. 1200Kj is how much you’ll burn if you cycle at a steady pace for just one hour. Studies show that it all adds up with just a daily half hour ride keeping you fit and slim.
Cycling is a great activity for all ages either with a buddy or hit the road alone. As a means of getting around it’s cost effective and contributes to a greener environment so why not leave the car at home for a week and cycle to work.
Cycling is a low-impact activity making it perfect if you have low fitness levels or sore joints. It improves your overall cardiovascular fitness and strengthens the muscles in your legs, hips and butt. In fact, it also works on your arms, core and back muscles, particularly if you take on a few hills.
Like most exercises cycling is also a great stress reliever. It develops a strong mind whether it’s riding uphill and pushing yourself that little bit further each time, or by taking a new route or path and exploring a new territory. If you translate this mental strength into your everyday life then you’ll find that your ability to manage difficult or stressful situations will improve.
Now, it is very important to ensure that you can safely negotiate your way on your bike sothere are a few things you should keep in mind. If you are a beginner then start by riding at low intensity for 30 minutes on flat terrain. Slowly build on speed and time and challenge yourself with hills and undulating terrain as you get fitter and stronger. Ride for longer and alternate gears to make pushing the pedals harder and easier, orride hillier routes and alternate standing and sitting in the saddle when climbing hills.
Cycling outdoor might not be for everyone but that should not stop you from reaping the benefits. Trying an indoor spin class is perfect if you want to have consistency in your training and avoid the variables of the great outdoors such as traffic or adverse weather conditions. Spin classes are a low impact activity that allows the cyclist to tailor the workout to their needs and perfect to help you get comfortable in the saddle.
GET THE GEAR
The Bike: Go for the bike that will best suit the type of cycling you have planned. I recommend you ask someone to help you choose your bike . It is important that your bike havs a seat that fits your body.
Protect Your Head: Make sure to get an Australian Standard helmet that fits well.
What to Wear: Shorts or leggings and a comfortable t-shirt should be worn. If you wear long pants then they should be fitted at the ankle to ensure they don't get caught in the chain. I like padded bike pants for comfort on long rides.
Shoes: A pair of closed-in shoes is the best.
Hydration: Always ensure that your bike is fitted with a water bottle holder. Drink plenty of water before, after and during your ride.
Sunscreen: The sun can be strong even in winter so make sure you apply sunscreen regularly.
Pump it with Protein: If you are going on a long ride then pack a protein bar for some extra energy. Enjoy the ride!