The weather’s warming up nicely and Brum’s cycle paths are getting a multi-million spruce up. Time to dust off your bike and take it for a spin, says fitness expert Kelly Tyers
Cycling is a great way to exercise. It can be fun and makes a refreshing change to get out in some fresh air. Great for improving your fitness levels and losing weight, regular cycling can also help to relieve stress and tone that lower body. It is also low impact exercise meaning it’s easier on the bones and joints than running or any other high impact aerobic activities. You can burn up to 600 calories on an hour’s ride while also soaking up the sun and taking in those countryside views.
Alongside all of the health benefits, cycling is easy to fit into your daily routine because it is also a form of transport. It saves you money, gets you fit and is good for the environment – now who can argue with that? If you were an avid cyclist and it’s been a while since you’ve ventured into the saddle don’t worry, the saying is true: “You never forget how to ride a bike.” Your body has a fantastic memory and you will be able to adapt really quickly to getting your balance and picking up some speed. However it is always good to prepare yourself by making sure you stretch your main muscles and get your fitness levels up to speed. The main muscles used while pedalling are the gluteal muscles (your bum), your hamstrings, quadriceps and calfs. Your hip flexors will also become tight if you begin cycling on a regular basis so it would be good practice to give these a good stretch before and after your ride. Weight training can play a part to help you become bike-fit so focusing on your main muscles is a wise move. Exercises such as squats and lunges will target a big section of the lower body while also engaging the core muscles which are your main focus when working on your balance. With weights, try and stick with higher reps – this will boost your endurance allowing you to cycle for longer and further.
FUN TO BURN
One of the best ways to get in shape is taking part in a spinning class or two per week. Spinning is a class based purely on stationary bikes which run on a chain (just like outdoor bikes) and will take you through different phases of a ride such as steady pace, hill climbs, sprints and double time resistance. Alongside motivational music and with an energetic coach in front of you the 45 minute sessions will fly by and you will have fun as well as burning anywhere between 600 and 800 calories (and getting super fit!)