If you are looking to improve your fitness levels and adopt a healthier lifestyle, then regular cycling can really help. It does not matter whether you cycle on the road or off road, it is a great way to get fit. Cycling is fun, healthy, and will save you money in the long run.
Where is the best place to buy a bike?
There are a number of websites that specialise in selling bikes of all standards and prices. If you are just starting out on your cycling journey (pardon the pun), then there is no need to break the bank when buying your first bike. A decent road bike can be bought fairly cheaply, as can a mountain bike. There are a number of high street stores that also sell bikes. It is well worth popping into a bike shop and seeking advice on the different types of bikes and makes that are available. The great thing about bikes is that there are a variety to suite all standards and budgets.
What accessories do I require?
I would highly advise making sure that you purchase the correct accessories when buying a new bike. A good quality helmet that you can tighten on your head is essential. You should also consider riding gloves and base layers for cycling in colder weather (plus gloves for warmer climates), cycling shoes dependent on what pedals you decide to go for, and cycling shorts or leggings. Obviously good quality bike lights, a bike lock and a saddle bag to place a spare inner tube and tools in is also essential. Seek advice on what you require, which will depend on how often you are going to ride and the distance. This will influence the accessories you require.
So why should I cycle?
Well first and foremost cycling will improve your physical and mental fitness.
The benefits for the body include:
an increase in cardiovascular fitness
improvement in muscle strength, joint mobility and flexibility
a decrease in stress levels
improved posture and co-ordination
decrease in body fat
prevention and management of disease.
Any regular, moderate exercise of over 30 minutes per day will not only help increase your fitness and mood but can also guard against strokes, heart disease, some cancers, depression, diabetes, obesity and arthritis.
A study by the British Medical Journal in 2017 concluded:
Cycle commuting was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and all cause mortality. Walking commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD independent of major measured confounding factors. Initiatives to encourage and support active commuting could reduce risk of death and the burden of important chronic conditions.
Of course it goes without saying there is no point in cycling everyday and eating an unbalanced, unhealthy meal every evening, accompanied with a high consumption of alcohol. To get all the health benefits from cycling you have to change your lifestyle and adopt a healthy and well-balanced nutritious eating plan. In addition to this, if you are going to start cycling after injury, illness or a rather sedentary lifestyle, then seek GP advice first.
Why else should I ride?
The list is endless, but some reasons include:
You save money on petrol, parking charges and other travel expenses.
It’s good for the environment and you see so much more when you ride.
It's an ideal way to bring exercise into your daily life. You can ride to work, college or the shops.
It does not require years of practice to start, once you learn you never forget.
You do not have to go out and ride 20 miles. You can build up your strength and stamina by starting with a 5 mile ride.
There are lots of cycle routes and networks to ride along. Cycling has become very popular in the UK, especially since the London Olympics. There has been a lot more money put into bike paths and routes.
So start riding. It's sociable, great for the environment, healthy, it improves physical fitness and more importantly it will help with your overall well-being.
Further reading and click throughs.
Love to Ride - Love to Ride gets more people enjoying all the benefits of riding.
Bikeweek.org - Bike Week 2018 kicks off on Saturday 9 June with some fantastic events happening right across the UK
Wiggle.com - Online Shop
Sustrans - National Cycle Network
Please see our Sports and Fitness page for lots more articles.