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Biking Expert – How to Stay Fit Cycling

To gain the most from an exercise regimen, the routine needs to be done consistently. Many forms of exercise become tedious and are more of a chore than a challenge. Cycling is a form of exercise than can be constantly modified to present new challenges and provide a constant change of scenery. As people are becoming more economically and environmentally aware, many are discovering, or rediscovering, cycling as a means of becoming fit as there are many benefits that comes with it.

The Basics

According to the Mayo Clinic, a minimum of 2 ½ hours a week is required to obtain and preserve good physical and cardiovascular fitness. Experience and ability should be taken into consideration prior to plotting out a bike route. Beginners or those getting back into cycling might want to opt for flat terrain with minimal automotive and pedestrian traffic while the experienced rider will appreciate the challenge of conquering steeper hills or maneuvering through city traffic.

Cycling is a great way to build leg strength and cardio endurance, but does not do as much for the upper body. W.D. Adkins, of Livestrong.com, suggests that cyclists incorporate a weight training program as part of their exercise regimen to maximize the benefit of physical activity and minimize the risk of injury.

Stretching prior to riding is also recommended to minimize the risk of muscle strain. Muscles that have been warmed up are less likely to cramp. For maximum benefit, stretches should be slow and gentle, not jerky or forced.

The Benefits

*Cardiovascular Health

Cycling gets the heart pumping, benefitting the heart itself as well as the blood vessels and the organs that are critically dependent on a strong, steady supply of blood. Regular cardio exercise helps to prevent or hasten the progress of diseases related to poor cardiovascular health such as Coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and peripheral vascular disease.

* Multiple Muscle Conditioning

When peddling a bicycle, the main muscles used are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and, to a lesser degree, the calf muscles. However, those are not the only muscles that become engaged during cycling. When cycling, the stomach should be pulled toward the lower back, with the torso elongated and the chest lifted. This positioning strengthens both the back and abdominal muscles as the muscles constantly work together to keep itself upright and balanced.

*Stress and Anxiety Reduction

According to ADAA.org, there is scientific evidence that people who are physically active have lower rates of anxiety and depression than people who are sedentary. One study found that people who exercise regularly are 25 percent less likely to experience depression or anxiety over the next five years. It has also been found that regular exercise may improve mental health by boosting the brain, helping it to better cope with stress.

*Ease Depression Symptoms

Exercise such as cycling has physical has benefits that can ease some of the symptoms of depression. While exercising, naturally-occurring chemicals such as neurotransmitters, endorphins, and endocannabinoids are released in the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, these “feel-good” brain chemicals often create a sense of well-being and contentment.

The social interaction involved with cycling can also be a mood changer. Riding with cycling groups, meeting new people, or just exchanging a nod and a smile with a fellow cyclist can negate some of the feelings of solitude and isolation that comes with depression. While a diagnosis of clinical depression often requires a medical prescription as part of its treatment, easing some of the symptoms with cycling is a bonus that accompanies the physical benefits of the sport.

The Bike

It is important to choose the appropriate bike for the type of cycling you plan to do. There are four main categories of bicycles: Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes, Hybrid Bikes, and Cruisers. A bike size is based on the style of the bike, and the build and inseam of the rider. The reach between the seat and the handlebars should be comfortable. Your arms should not have to stretch to the point of being uncomfortable to reach the grips. Having the proper seat height eliminates undue joint stress and muscle strain.

Because most bikes are built for men, women may have special considerations when selecting a proper bike fit such as shorter arms and legs, longer torsos, or smaller size and weight. However, there are many information on bikes for women, where you can look for the one that will fit you most.