Ah, cycling, one of the best utilizations of the wheel known to man. Simple, reliable, eco-friendly and easy on the eyes, bikes have been with us for quite some time and have seen incredible improvements over the last 50 years. Apart from being a means of transport, bikes are also one of the best ways to exercise. The sheer amount of muscles that are constantly being used during a ride is insane and the energy spent doing it assures us that excess fat is being burned around the clock.
This has to be one of the biggest benefits you get when opting for a bike – you will constantly be outside. Gyms are all fine and dandy, but nothing can beat the feeling of fresh air on a nice cool autumn day. Another great bonus is that, by being outside, it helps with our sense of progress. In a gym, your next hour or two is going to be spent in essentially one spot, whereas cycling gives off a genuine feeling of progress because you’ve constantly been on the move. This can do wonders for morale and help push us even further, setting physical milestones instead of mental ones.
Engage your whole body
The act of riding a bike engages your entire body to make the movement happen. From the balls of your feet to the muscles on your neck, the entirety of your body is in a complex routine to keep you both in balance and motion. It is worth noting that standing while pedaling offers the best results as it engages more muscles and gets the heart rate kicking. This is due to the fact that you’re essentially making a bike ride into a step master while at it, each revolution of the bike pedals requires much more effort and puts more strain on your legs, back and arms to keep everything going.
Start increasing the frequency/distance
Once feeling comfortable with your selected bike and the stress it puts on your body, the next step is to ante up. There are generally two ways you can do this, depending on your goals. The first is to simply try and use the bike whenever possible, the sheer frequency of rides will start showing results after a while and will engage your muscles in short bursts. The other option is to opt for much longer rides that will take up much more time but will put incredible stress on the entire body. These marathon bike rides can take several hours to complete and will test you physically and mentally.
Alter the terrain
One of the best ways to put additional work into your workout is to alter the terrain. We’ve all grown accustomed to the benefits of paved roads and rarely get to experience the true stress of riding through country roads or off the beaten path. Take note that this step requires a bicycle specifically designed for these types of rough rides. Going off-road will put additional stress on all of your muscles, as each bump and slide will make them contract and struggle to keep you on. Smaller jumps can also be a big boost but are generally considered a bit dangerous and aren’t for the faint of heart.
Get friends involved
A good way to make this routine a thing is to get friends involved. We are social creatures and, as such, generally thrive in group activities. If they aren’t into cycling, this is the perfect time to sell them on it, especially if you plan on going for long hauls off the beaten path. Bicycles are readily available both online and offline and are becoming more and more affordable, with the initial investment a fraction of what a gym membership amounts to. Getting someone to ride with will create some healthy competition and will take the mental stress of doing the exercise.
The key thing with biking is that stopping isn’t an option. The reason it works so well is because it combines transport with exercise, and it doesn’t even need to be deliberate. Extensive rides are favorable, but if there’s no time to spare on exercise, simply use the bike in everyday situations. Go to the store, to a friend’s house, ride it around the block instead of taking a walk – all of these are extremely effective and keep our body on its toes. This will eliminate the feeling of doing “exercise” completely and still help us maintain the physique we’ve achieved.
Cycling is fun. Period. There is simply something about propelling yourself forward with nothing more than your own strength and the sweat of your back. It’s one of the healthiest ways to burn fat and keep your muscles engaged throughout the day. There is a plethora of ways we can alter our routine to keep it interesting and fresh, all the while positively impacting the difficulty scale. And with so many variables to tweak, getting fit is as easy as, well…riding a bike.