As Freddie Mercury once said, “I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride my bike”…. and, so should you. Everyone remembers the day they got their first bicycle. Maybe it was your birthday. Maybe it was a Christmas present. Maybe it was a hand-me-down from your older brother or sister. Whatever the reason, and whenever it happened, we ALL remember our first bike.
But, can you remember the last time you rode a bicycle? For many of us that answer is far too long ago. Not only is riding a bicycle a source of fun and entertainment that can transport you back to those long forgotten days of your childhood, riding a bicycle can be a great way to remain active and improve your overall health and fitness. There are many health benefits to riding a bicycle – but don’t take my word for it. Here are some reasons to break that old bicycle out of the garage and get it tuned up just in time for summer.
Feel the Burn
For starters, whether your riding a stationary bike at the gym or you’re out on the open road, a mellow bike ride of less than ten miles per hour can burn more calories (281) than a walk averaging two miles per hour (176), according to NutriStrategy. The calorie burning power of bicycling is formidable. For example, a one-hundred-thirty-five (135lbs) pound female pedaling at approximately twelve miles an hour can burn four-hundred-eighty-eight (488) calories in one hour.
Do you find it difficult, like many of us, to find the time in your busy schedule to get on a bicycle and actually ride long enough to burn those calories? Well, according to the most recent National Household Transportation Survey, half of American workers live within five miles of their workplace. So, instead of jumping in that gas guzzler in the morning, if you live close enough to your workplace, you can ride to work twice a week and burn up to three-thousand (3,000) extra calories each month.
Low Impact Toning
Bicycling is much easier on your legs, ankles, knees and feet than running or walking. While the constant impact on joints from running and walking can take its toll on the body, bicycling is lower impact and works the muscles in the legs without inflicting the same jarring impact on legs, knees, and ankle joints.
Also, while it seems obvious that regularly riding a bicycle can strengthen and tone your legs, you may not realize bicycling can also benefit your upper body. While your legs clearly provide the muscle to propel your bicycle forward, working the handlebar as your ride can also help sculpt and tone your upper body. And, it’s important to remember when riding a bicycle that your knees should remain bent at about a twenty-five (25) degrees angle at the bottom of your pedal stroke. If your legs are too straight, or too bent, you should adjust your bicycle seat to the correct height to ensure proper leg position.
A study published in the March 2008, issue of the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found bicycling could increase energy levels by twenty percent and decreased fatigue by a whopping sixty-five percent. This physiological effect occurs because bicycling triggers your brain to release dopamine, which is linked to energy levels, says professor of kinesiology at the University of Georgia, Mr. Patrick O’Connor, Ph.D. Further, the same study found that there is no need to ride hard to harness the energizing benefits of bicycling. In fact, the study showed that people who pedaled at a low to moderate pace three times a week best fought fatigue levels.
There are many different ways in which you can take advantage of the health benefits of bicycling. You can sign up for bicycle rides or races local to your community. You can book a bicycle vacation tour in an exotic location that can not only provide you with health benefits but also allow you to see parts of the world you may otherwise miss. You can commute to and from work on your bicycle, thereby improving your health and lessening your carbon footprint at the same time. And, you can simply get the bicycle out on the weekend and ride around your neighborhood with your kids.
Any way you do it, making a commitment to ride your bicycle more often is a great way to help ensure your overall health and fitness while also having a good time. Just remember, always wear the appropriate safety gear, follow the rules of the road as they apply to bicycles, always be aware of your surroundings, and always ride with caution and due care to avoid injuries associated with bicycling.
In addition to maintaining your health and fitness by regularly bicycling, you can find additional information about maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle by consulting your doctor. Don’t have time to schedule an appointment? That’s no problem when you rely on the convenience of MeMD for your care!