Anyone who pedals regularly strengthens their heart and immune system. Pedaling has a positive effect on the muscles, intervertebral discs, blood circulation and joints. Those who manage to get to 40 minutes will lose weight, because the fat will start to melt. If we cycle through a lovely landscape, we will also do something good for the soul.
The long winter is over. The awakening nature also lures us out from behind the stove. The body craves movement. Not everyone feels like jogging or walking. That’s where the bike comes in handy. Whether it’s the old bike or the high-tech bike, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we swing into the saddle and drive off. It’s again the time for cycling.
Bicycle – an Ideal Fitness Device
Whether in everyday life, for leisure or holiday activities, we can always fit in the bike. We don’t even have to bring our own, because many locations already offer rental bikes.
Almost everyone can ride a bike, whether young or old, athletic or overweight. The body weight is carried by the saddle, the joints are relieved, the intervertebral discs activated and the muscles trained. Blood pressure is stabilized. Breathing is deepened and oxygen uptake is significantly increased.
Twenty minutes of cycling has a positive effect on the immune system. This is caused by the climatic stimulus provided by wind, air and sun.
Starting from 30 minutes we strengthen the heart and circulation. If you can even manage 40 minutes, you boost your fat metabolism. The pounds will start to tumble.
The soul doesn’t miss out either. It is a pleasure to experience the landscape at a slower pace than from a car. The headwind caresses not only the body but also the soul, if we allow it. This improves the quality of life all around.
It’s the Dose that Counts
If you haven’t been in the saddle for months, you should take it easy. Otherwise, the body’s revenge will follow: the breath runs out, pain in the neck, shoulders and sore muscles set in and the joy is gone. This can be avoided if we prepare the body for the unfamiliar movement. Belly-leg-butt and shoulder exercises prepare the muscles.
Stretching exercises for the back muscles are important because the spine muscle called erector spinae tend to be overstretched when cycling. Practicing on the home trainer during the long winter months would have been ideal.
The feel-good pace is a moderate speed, individually adjusted to the training condition. You should still be able to have a good conversation while cycling. The cycling trips are to be gradually extended. Don’t start too fast, rather ride more often. You should be tired when you reach your destination, but not exhausted.
It is important that horse and rider fit together. The saddle should be set high enough so that you can put your heel on the pedal with your leg stretched out. If you sit correctly on the saddle, then you stand with the ball of your foot on the pedal. In this way, the power when pedaling is used optimally. If the saddle is set too low, the knee joint is forced too much. This can lead to injuries and you also tire more quickly. However, if the saddle is too high, the legs are forced to fully straighten. This can also be problematic for the joints.
The saddle should be leveled out flat, and the handlebars should be level with the saddle. In this position, the spine is not bent too far forward, but also not so upright that bumps in the road would cause damage. A variable handlebar allows the grip position to be changed frequently, so you can always adopt a new sitting position.
Of course, the bike must also comply with the road traffic regulations. Two good brakes, bell, rear and front lighting and reflectors should be mandatory, reflectors also belong between the spokes and on the pedals. By the way, if you are smart, you ride with a helmet.
The Round Treadle
The treadle should not be angular and hacky from top to bottom, but round and loose. The pedal should not only be pushed down, but also pulled back in the down position and pushed forward in the up position. Even professional cyclists practice again and again on this round treadle.
The upper body should not swing back and forth when pedaling, but should be almost immobile. The legs are kept parallel to the frame so the knees are not spread apart.
A common mistake made by amateur cyclists is the number of revolutions per minute, the frequency. Many ride in a gear that is too high. You don’t get to your destination so exhausted if you drive at 70 to 90 revolutions per minute. Proper shifting and braking need practice.
When going uphill, you can stand up and pedal out of the saddle. The whole body is trained in this way. There is tension and relaxation. This is how women achieve slender hips and firmly trained butts.
Clothing and Shoes
Jerseys and cycling shorts made of modern, breathable materials are comfortable, but not essential. You can also wear comfortable, loose sportswear or a tracksuit. It is important that nothing is constricting, and that you dress in layers that you can take off and put on again, depending on the weather and heat development. The shoes should have a non-slip sole. Loose slippers that cannot be tied are taboo. They can lead to accidents.
Don’t forget the thirst quencher, the water bottle. One tenth of a gallon of water is drunk for every half hour of cycling. This increases endurance.
Cycling in Daily Life
Let’s incorporate cycling into everyday life. Why not cycle to work? You can catch two birds with one stone. Admittedly, you have to overcome ingrained habits and comforts, fight your inner couch potato. If you often use your bike to run errands or just drive to work, you can save yourself a trip to the gym in your free time. Regular cycling has many health benefits. You also protect the environment, because the bicycle has no polluting emissions.
One of my best vacations was cycling along the Danube River from Passau to Vienna with my family. There are wonderful cycling routes in every country. You can take your bike on the train or ship and choose the easier routes if you don’t want it to be too strenuous. But you can also face challenges and plan a mountain bike tour. The main thing is that you start and enjoy it. With this in mind, let’s enjoy cycling. As a result, one can really say: bike tour instead of pill cure.
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Esther Neumann studied Nutrition at the University of Vienna. Since then she served as an author for the health magazine “Leben und Gesundheit” and conducted health lectures in various locations of Austria.