The Beauty of Biking
Whether indoor or outdoor, biking is an enjoyable exercise that offers a wide range of health benefits.
If you are looking for exercise options to keep yourself healthy and fit, you might want to hop on a bicycle and get moving.
The Department of Health recommends that Filipino adults do 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This includes a combination of activities for daily living (walking, climbing the stairs, household chores), exercise, and muscle strengthening and flexibility activities.
Biking, also called bicycling or cycling is a low-impact aerobic exercise that can give your heart and lungs a good workout. With biking, you can vary the intensity level, and you can even try it for different purposes. You can choose to do biking as your mode of transport, a casual pastime, or as a rigorous exercise. For those who have a competitive spirit, you can also join cycling races, duathlons, and triathlons.
The Benefits of Biking
Aside from being an aerobic workout, biking offers a wealth of other health benefits, which include:
- Leg Strengthening
Cycling gives your lower body a workout without overstressing your leg muscles. Through the movements of this exercise, you strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, quads, and calves.
If you are aiming for even stronger legs, you can complement your biking routine with weightlifting exercises, such as leg presses and squats. Lunges are also helpful. Make sure you do these a few times each week and you will see a difference in your cycling performance.
- Core Enhancement
Aside from your legs, biking also activates your back and abdominals. You would probably notice that it takes a certain amount of core strength to keep your body upright and to maintain the bike in a certain position.
With regular cycling practice, you develop strong abdominals and back muscles. This, in turn, will help not only improve the level of comfort when cycling but will also better support your spine and increase the stability of your body.
- Healthy Bone Building
According to physical therapist Dr. Clare Safran-Norton from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, resistance activities build bone density. This applies in biking because when we are pushing pedals during a biking activity, our muscles are being pulled. The muscles then pull on the bone, which increases bone density.
- Weight Reduction
Aside from lowering your body fat levels and building muscles, biking helps increase your metabolism. This allows you to burn more calories, even while you are resting.
Cycling, particularly indoor cycling, can help you lose weight when coupled with healthy eating practices. Reports said a 185-pound person can lose up to 932 calories per hour through vigorous stationary cycling, while light outdoor biking can result in 710 calories burned per hour.
- Mental Health Boost
Biking offers not just physical health benefits, but it can also help ease feelings of anxiety, stress, or depression.
When you are biking, the natural tendency is to focus on the road or trail, thus enabling you to be more present at the moment. It develops your concentration and helps take your mind off the worries of the day. Furthermore, the endorphin released from cycling makes you feel better and also reduces stress levels.
Getting Started on Biking
Having decided on starting your cycling journey, it is important to put safety as your primary consideration. If you have medical issues such as heart problems, arthritis, or thinning bones, make sure you consult your physician first.
If you plan on cycling outdoors, take extra precautions as well. Whether you live in a rural or urban area, it is best to plan your route ahead of time and assess the traffic conditions where you plan to ride. Whenever possible, go biking on lanes reserved for cyclists. And even if you do not plan on taking up biking as a competitive sport, it is a good idea to wear a helmet each time.
When choosing your bike, look for one that does not put a lot of stress on your body. Higher handlebars allow you to sit upright while wider tires generally allow for a smooth ride. Make sure the saddle is also wide enough to support the pair of bones you sit on.
Ultimately, you should find the biking routine, location, and intensity that allows you to enjoy the exercise. Being able to bike with a smile on your face makes all the more healthy, sustainable, and rewarding.