Bicycling for Fitness and Fun

It’s springtime in the Front Range which means beautiful sunny days (most of the time) and mild temperatures (except for those crazy spring snow storms) that are perfect for bike riding. Whether you ride a road bike, mountain bike, tandem, recumbent or other style of bike, there are many benefits to this activity, not only for your health and well being, but for that of the environment as well.

Bicycling is a great form of low-impact aerobic activity, exercise that puts less stress on our joints and gets our heart and lungs working. This is an especially important type of exercise as we get older, as many adults develop arthritis in their weight-bearing hip and knee joints.  Riding a bike decreases the impact on knees and hips and allows us to exercise more comfortably. Additionally, bicycling helps to maintain muscular strength and endurance.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (available at www.health.gov/paguidelines) outlines key recommendations for aerobic activity. Specifically, the average adult should aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week. This could be easily accomplished with several bike rides throughout the week at a moderate speed (less than 10 miles per hour).

When increasing your level of activity it is important to progress gradually in order to allow your body tissues to adapt and get stronger. Progressing too quickly could result in tissue irritation and the development of overuse injuries. Bicycle riding should be a fun and pain-free activity.

If you are experiencing pain while riding, then your bike may not be fitted properly resulting in increased strain on your body. This is an area where a physical therapist can help assess you and your bike, and make adjustments in order to improve your comfort and performance in the saddle. Several of our therapists are trained in bicycle fitting and are available to perform a comprehensive assessment and bike fitting. Call us today so we can help you get back on the bike!

In the next posting, I’ll discuss some common bicycle-related injuries and ways to avoid them.