Cycling, both outdoors and on a stationary bicycle, are a great cardiovascular exercise and a perfect alternative for those that don't like walking or jogging or who have orthopaedic limitations to weight bearing exercise.
Cycling is a good exercise for a variety of fitness levels. Stationary cycling or outdoor cycling on level ground, works well for anyone, more hilly terrain can provide a more intense workout for those already in better shape. Benefits include increased cardio respiratory (heart and lung) health, decreased body fat, decreased risk of heart disease, lower risk of injury, and improved low back muscle endurance.
Adjust the height of the seat so that the leg that is on the bottom of the down stroke is almost but not quite completely extended when the foot is on the pedal. If the seat is too low, your leg muscles will fatigue more easily, limiting your performance. Use toe clips, if available, they improve pedalling efficiency. Sit comfortably on the bike seat with your back straight, either upright or leaning slightly forward. Rest your hands on top of the handlebars and relax your shoulders.
The pedalling speed can vary depending on fitness level and comfort, but 50 / 70 revolutions per minute (rpms) usually provides a good workout for beginners, with advanced between 70 / 90 at a higher level.
Always warm-up, stretch, and cool down during your outdoor/stationary cycling session.
Begin each exercise session by pedalling against very low levels of resistance for 5-10 minutes (warm-up) and then stretch your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, and low back muscles (refer to the stretching component for the principles and techniques of stretching.) After your exercise session, cool down by pedalling at a very low resistance for 5-10 minutes and then stretch the same muscles as before. Be sure to drink fluid regularly throughout the exercise session, carry a water bottle with you.
It's good advice to wear a proper fitting helmet when cycling outdoors, and at night have lights and reflective material on.
It is also important to gradually increase the duration (the time you spend in each session) before you increase the intensity. That is, when beginning a cycling program, be more concerned with increasing the number of minutes of the exercise session before you increase the intensity. The intensity can then be increased gradually by either increasing your speed or cycling on a hilly terrain.
Interval training i.e. a minute fast then a minute easy will help improve your fitness level, and also take out any boredom factor. Refer to the aerobic exercise tips for your correct level of exercise.
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