Fitness

Get Ready to Ride

benefits of biking cycling and bicycling

Main Article Content

The Benefits of Bicycling

Whether you're a novice cyclist or seasoned spinner, biking is an activity that's fun, easy and good for your health, wellness and fitness.

More Than Just a Workout

Think about the time and money you can save biking to your destination, as opposed to sitting in traffic while your car burns gas. A 30-minute commute to work on a bike not only benefits your wallet and keeps your rush-hour stress levels in check, but also burns an average of about 300 calories.

In addition to time and money saved, and calories lost, biking offers a host of other benefits, including:

  • Improved mobility
  • Increased muscle tone, strength and flexibility
  • Increased stamina
  • Improved lung function and circulation
  • Improved heart function and protection against diseases
  • Improved posture and coordination
  • Strengthened bones
  • Reduced stress, anxiety and depression

Not to mention, you'll feel energized after a workout and happier thanks to feel-good endorphins released during your ride.

Before You Bike

Safety first! Check out your bike before you hit the road and make sure it's in proper working order. Ongoing bike maintenance is an essential part of safe cycling, and it's a good idea to get a professional bike fitting before starting out.

Know your traffic laws and hand signals when you share the road with cars. If a street is too busy or has multiple driveways or parking lots, proceed with caution or find a different route, as cars may not always see you coming. To aid in visibility, attach reflectors, headlights and blinking rear lights to your bike. Wear light-colored or reflective clothing. And, it can't be stressed enough that a well-fitting helmet is a biking must-have.

Get comfortable. Adjust your seat height and handlebars to a preferable position. When seated, your knee should be slightly bent when the pedal is pushed down, and handlebars should be higher for comfort or lower for performance.

Be prepared. Know where you’re going ahead of time. Carry water and a bike repair kit with you, as well as a cell phone. If you have to use your phone, do so when you’re stopped and out of traffic.

A Safe Cycle

Before you know it, your morning commute or your Sunday ride has become a lifelong healthy habit. The keys to staying in your cycle are easy: take care of yourself and take care of your bike.

Injury Awareness

Whether from a fall, overtraining or poor fit, injuries happen. At any level, you should be listening to your body, responding to aches or strains and adjusting your routine as needed.

New riders often experience wrist pain and veterans are likely to develop knee, neck or lower back pain. Saddle sores – a skin disorder caused by friction in your seat – can be the result of a long time in the saddle, but may be worsened by old shorts or a seat that’s too high. If you have a serious accident, or your pain gets worse, consult a professional.

Bike Maintenance

A well-fitted bike will do wonders for your experience – both as far as your workout and your injury prevention are concerned.

Proper maintenance will give you another boost to your biking. You should regularly check the air in your tires and lube the chain when it gets loud. Periodic checks by a professional are also recommended to evaluate any issues you may miss.

Interested in hearing more from Northwestern Medicine? Sign up for the Healthy Tips E‑Newsletter for everything from health and wellness ideas to patient breakthroughs to academic and medical advancements.