Cycling: What Is It, Health Benefits, and Getting Started – Everyday Health

Cycling: What Is It, Health Benefits, and Getting Started - Everyday Health

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about cycling:

Do I need to warm up before my cycling workout? How?

Few people live right next to a bike path, says Seacat, but even those who do will usually start slow for a few minutes before building up speed. That means simply biking to your road, trail, or path is a good warmup. If you’re biking indoors, five to 10 minutes of leisurely riding as you get ready for more intensity is enough of a warmup, he adds.

How many calories does cycling burn?

The amount depends on factors like your current fitness level, weight, age, and workout intensity. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE) Physical Activity Calorie Counter, a 150-pound person cycling for an hour at a 12 mile per hour pace would burn about 544 calories. At the more leisurely pace of 5.5 miles per hour, the burn for the full hour would be 272 calories.

What muscles do you use for cycling?

Your quadriceps (the large muscles on the tops of your thighs) will be doing a majority of the work, says Warloski. But you’ll also be engaging your core to keep you balanced and stabilized on the bike, and to a lesser degree, you’ll fire up your arms, shoulders, calves, and hamstrings.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t try cycling?

If you have cardiovascular issues, joint problems, balance issues, COPD or other breathing problems, or diabetes, talk with your doctor before beginning a new routine, says Seacat.

That doesn’t mean you can’t cycle if you have these conditions, but your healthcare provider may suggest modifications or refer you to physical therapy or rehab specialists who can help you begin with more supervision.

What should I wear for a cycling workout?

If you’re cycling indoors, any type of comfortable workout wear is fine, says Seacat. However, for an outdoor ride, you do need to be more strategic, he adds. Always check the weather before you head out, especially if you anticipate larger fluctuations in temperature, humidity, windchill, or precipitation.

Dress in layers, he suggests. Consider clothes that are moisture wicking; they help draw sweat away from your body so you don’t get chilled while riding.

What are the most common cycling injuries and how can I avoid them?

According to the sports medicine program at the University of Rochester Medical Center, the most common cycling injuries are:

  • Knee pain
  • Head injuries from a crash
  • Neck and back pain
  • Wrist and forearm pain or numbness
  • Urogenital problems, especially in male riders, due to compression of blood supply to the genital region

To reduce your risk, the university recommends strategies like changing position on your bike occasionally so you’re not putting strain on the neck, back, and wrists for too long, making sure your shoes fit properly, and getting a wider seat to solve that compression issue. And of course: Always, always, always wear a helmet (unless you’re on a stationary bike).

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About the Author: Eugene Berry