Whether you’re looking for a new class at the gym or hoping to take advantage of the great outdoors this summer, cycling outdoors is a great activity to add to your fitness routine. Here are just a few ways cycling can improve your health, plus tips for starting a routine and a few routes to try.
Health benefits of cycling outdoors
In addition to being an easy and efficient way to travel to and from work, cycling has health benefits for your heart, waistline and joints. Taking a long, fast-paced ride will torch calories and build strength while improving your aerobic and anaerobic capacity, said Danielle Hopkins, group fitness manager and cycling instructor at Equinox. Increasing your aerobic and anaerobic capacity will help whittle your waistline and improve your cardiovascular health, which help keeps your risk for heart disease down.
Because cycling is primarily a non-weight bearing activity, it reduces the amount of stress on your joints and helps keep wear and tear on the body at a minimum, Hopkins said. Riding a bike also helps to tone and build lower body muscles while remaining a low-impact form of exercise — an important part of your fitness routine if you’ve sustained a hip or leg injury.
Starting a cycling routine and where to ride
As with any new activity, there may be an initial learning curve as your body adapts to being challenged in a new way, Hopkins said, but the nice thing about biking is that you can set your own pace and intensity both in and out of doors. “Indoors, keep the resistance a little lower [on your bike],” she said. “Outdoors, pick a shorter course with fewer hills and watch for a measurable improvement as you add time and distance on the bike.”
If you start with an indoor class, be sure to get there early and have the instructor help you get set up on the bike, Hopkins said. Manoeuvring a bike outdoors is a little bit more difficult, with traffic, other cyclists and changing terrain to contend with. Your best bet? Start slowly, take your time to learn how to work your gears and brakes and be aware of your surroundings. Joining a local cycling group can help teach you the necessary skills and organise team rides depending on your skill level.
If you’re ready to hit the road, be sure to take a look at a few of these great bike rides and cycling tips:
By Jessica Remitz
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