Cycling has become more than a sport, it turned into a way of life for many people – the young urban professionals using bicycles to move around crowded cities and exercise in the same time is one of the best and simplest examples. Cycling, if done properly, can also turn into an excellent workout: you can burn 500 calories per hour and you can really give your cardiovascular, muscular, bone and neural systems a boost of health and strength. As a form of workout, cycling should, however, take place in natural environments more than in urban ones. So if you want to embrace cycling for fitness as one of healthiest types of exercises ever, you need to consider the next three key aspects.
Just like any other fitness program, cycling should be accompanied by a proper nutrition. Some of the most important rules to follow are:
- Focus on a balanced diet and pack it with protein, but don’t cut fat altogether. In cycling, healthy fats (like olive oil for instance) help your muscles and tissue to repair faster after efforts, providing shock absorption in your feet and organs, preventing injuries.
- Drink plenty of water
- Cut back on refined sugar
- Switch your snacking habits to healthy ones, especially if you are cycling for more than one hour. Yogurt, dried fruits, nuts and protein bars are a good way to begin.
Cycling may look boring, but you can find diversity when you bike – and you should because adding variety to your routine helps you build stronger muscles, bones and internal organs, helping you stay fit, burn calories and improve your immune system. If you are a seasoned biker, there are some things you can also try:
- Cyclocross or off-road riding – it will help you achieve better mind-body coordination while improving your fitness, strength, resistance, and control. It is a high-intensity effort but will burn you plenty of calories and build your muscles in no time.
- Jump the rope – you shouldn’t try to jump over a high rope, but high enough to warm up, build your muscular endurance at the calves and shoulders’ levels, boost your circulatory system, warm-up and give your body a true ride.
- Use a fixed bike instead of a freewheel – such a bike strengthens your glutes and abdomen, legs and back.
Depending on your goals, you can pick the best bike, after all, cycling for fitness doesn’t exclude your daily fun. But when we talk about gear, there are some items you should consider. Some will help you with your fitness program while others will make the whole cycling experience a lot better.
- Get a fingertip blood oxygen saturation monitor to keep an eye on your blood oxygen levels, pulse rate and pulse strength. Such an oximeter is perfect for all those on the go, warning the beginners that they should take a break from time to time. Cycling for fitness is a high-intensity effort and you should keep your O2 levels and pulse in check at all times.
- Dress up for comfort – your usual biking clothes may not the proper ones when it comes to turning cycling into a heavy workout. You will need special cycling shoes and clothes that absorb perspiration, don’t chafe and are anti-allergic.
These main three pillars of a cycling for fitness program are just the beginning. We will address the issue of biking and its health and fitness benefits in our next articles.
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