As spring edges into summer, bicycling becomes a refreshingly fun way to
exercise. The health benefits of cycling are as clear as the sky: riding
a bike burns calories, builds muscles, improves coordination, and boosts
energy levels. And participating in a local bike-a-thon, community rally,
or charity ride could help you connect with your community in a completely new way.
From customizing vintage bikes to finding shared riding experiences, there’s
more than one way to hit the healthy trail this summer:
Recycle & re-style. Cycling is one of the easiest ways to exercise, regardless of budget,
and it doesn’t require flashy new gear. Consider finding a one-of-a-kind
used bicycle that you can customize to reflect your personality. Used
bikes are readily available online, at the swap meet, or in the garage
of your local tinkerer. Polish up a classic beach cruiser, or put some
upgrades on a vintage 10-speed. Add some color tires, radio accessories,
or whatever custom touches suit your fancy. A unique ride that shows off
your personality is bound to start conversations on the path, which will
add to your enjoyment.
Go feet first
. With a recumbent bike you lean back in a bucket-type seat instead of
sitting bent over the handlebars. Recumbent bikes offer better support
for your lower back and improve the spinal posture. By taking your body
weight off your legs, a recumbent bike reduces impact on your knees and
ankles. Under-seat steering allows your arms to rest on handlebars on
either side of the legs. Recumbent cycling is the best choice if you have
hand, arm or shoulder injuries. The bucket seat also provides a noticeable
improvement in comfort for overweight cyclers, making it easier to exercise
longer without getting saddle sore.
Double the fun. Paul Newman and Katharine Ross had the right idea when their characters
shared a bicycle ride in
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but a tandem bicycle would have made their ride safer and more comfortable.
The extended wheelbase of a tandem bike makes it both highly visible and
highly stable, making it perfect for safer street riding. A tandem also
enables shared exercise for people of varying fitness levels. If the person
in one seat is more fit, the person in the other seat can come along for
the ride even if they have to take a break from pedaling. A tandem bicycle
could be just the thing for the couple looking for a fresh way to combine
exercise and quality time in the same enjoyable experience.
Porta-pedaling. A folding bicycle features a low-slung frame that unfastens in the middle,
allowing the entire bicycle to be folded in half for portability and storage.
The folding bike can open a wealth of exercise opportunities. Portable
bikes are ideal for people who want a full-size bicycle but have to keep
them indoors, and they take up less space on a bus or train, making it
easier to combine cycling with public transit. For someone who has been
wanting to try cycling to work, a folding bike can eliminate obstacles.
If your workplace doesn’t have bike racks outside, the folded bike
can be taken onto the elevator or into the office with minimal fuss. Carry
a folding bike in your car trunk, park a mile or two from work, and voila!--you
have just created your own personal park-and-ride.
Happy trailing. Everyone has seen a cycler with a brightly colored pup-tent attached
to the rear wheel. Cycling with the children in a trailer, while strenuous,
is one the most enjoyable ways for parents to get physically fit. Pulling
the added weight of pint-sized passengers significantly increases the
intensity of your cycling workout, raising your heart rate, building stamina,
and strengthening the muscles of your legs, thighs, and hips. For safety,
never use a child trailer on roads where there are cars; keep to trails
and designated bikeways.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.