Cycling is a fantastic form of exercise – and a fantastically popular one. The success of British stars such as Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton have prompted a nation to get on its bike. The contrasting physiques of Hoy and Wiggins demonstrate cyclists come in all shapes and sizes. Cycling can help you lose weight, reduce stress, build muscle and improve your overall fitness, especially cardiovascular.
According to British Heart Foundation, cycling just 20 miles a week makes you over 50% less likely to suffer heart disease than somebody who never exercises. Almost all cycling is done outdoors: meaning you’ll benefit from fresh air and the natural elements..
Strength and Tone Benefits
Cycling is predominantly a lower body exercise. Legs particularly benefit. The process of peddling, repeated over and over, quickly builds up the thigh muscles – especially the quadriceps (four muscles on the front of the thigh) and hamstrings (running down the back). Your glutes (a.k.a your backside) should also become well toned.
|Quadriceps, hamstrings, calves|
|Lower back, obliques, upper|
Additional Benefits of Cycling
Social: Cycling needn’t be a solitary activity. Cycle with friends or your partner to gain company and extra motivation. Alternatively, join a cycling club and meet other keen cyclists. Find your nearest cycling club here.
Transport: Leaving aside the fitness gains, cycling is a very efficient and cost-effective means of getting from A to B. Cycling to work can save a fortune on petrol or public transport.
Common Cycling Injuries and Prevention
Be very careful if you cycle on busy roads, especially in the city: around 75% of fatal or serious cyclist accidents occur in urban areas. Junctions are especially dangerous: 75% of accidents happen at, or near, a road junction.
Especially achilles and patellar (below the kneecap)
|Cause||Overused muscles or poor bike fit (e.g. seat positioned too low)|
|Prevention||Don’t overexert yourself! Avoid cycling cross-country if you’re just starting out. Make sure your seat is a good height; also check your foot position on the pedals is correct. Stretch for 5-10 minutes before and after.|
|Cause||Long hours on a bicycle saddle can damage the artery and nerves leading to the penis.|
|Prevention||Sit up straight – bad posture can increase the pressure on the nerves. Make sure your bike, and especially your seat, is a good fit. ‘No nose’ bicycle seats distribute the rider’s weight between the buttocks and doesn’t compromise blood flow to the penis. Our erectile dysfunction clinic can help treat ED.|
|Cause||Friction of your sit bones against the seat, especially after long hours in the saddle. Ill-fitting shorts won’t help either.|
|Prevention||On a long ride, try and stand or move around in your seat occasionally. Make sure your seat is well-positioned, supportive and comfortable.|
Never rode a bike in your life? No worries! Before you hit the road, read our guide to the essential cycling equipment and its cost. We also suggest a few gadgets for the technophiles among you…
Essential Equipment for Cycling
Required of any budding cyclist…
- Bicycle: Stating the obvious here. Bikes vary massively – a racing bike bears little resemblance to a mountain bike – so best to research a little before making a purchase. Find your nearest bike shop here.
- Helmet: Cycling is safer with head protection. Head injuries are the main cause of cycling-related fatalities.
- Road lights: An equally vital piece of safety equipment, especially if you plan to cycle after dark. Helps you see the road but, more importantly, helps traffic see you.
How Expensive is Cycling?
Depends how much you want to spend. Bike prices vary from under £100 into the many thousands. Likewise some helmets cost around a tenner, others cost more than most bikes! And then you have the optional extras, a few which are detailed below… You can spend a fortune on cycling or a pittance. But once you have bike, lights and helmet, all you need is the open road.
Get the Gadgets
Remember those optional extras? The modern cyclist has a near-endless array of accessories to choose from. Modify your ride with these four:
- Revolights: White and red LEDs mounted on the front and rear wheels, lighting up as the wheels spin. Looks very cool and massively increases visibility, especially from the side.
- Solar Powered Bike Lock: Impressively futuristic, the Skylock connects to your mobile and alerts you if a wannabe thief tries to tamper with it.
- Helmet Camera: Record your ride with a tiny camera mounted on your helmet. The GoPro HERO4 is the current must-have model, although cheaper alternatives are available.
- Mio Cyclo 5: A navigation device that maps your route, distance travelled, calories burned and much more. Built-in WiFi, of course.