Shake up your workout and get on your bike

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Cycling offers a great opportunity to workout outside alone or with friends

If you want to break away from the gym to try an outdoor activity but you’ve decided running simply isn’t for you, then maybe cycling could be the activity that meets all of your workout needs. Aside from the health benefits provided by regular exercise, cycling is one of the activities that allows you to use all your major muscle groups, improves joint mobility, cardiovascular health and is low impact.

How do you get started?

Before you can decide which bike is right for you, you need to determine what terrain you want to try out. If you’re planning on exploring unpaved trails, then you’ll need to look at hardtail mountain bikes. If you’re going to stick roads or sidewalks, then a road bike is more likely to be the better option. There are also hybrid bikes, meant to take advantage of both types of terrain and often the best long-term investment.

To some this is obvious, but still worth mentioning: the bike’s seat and handlebars have to be adjusted to your height. While it’s convenient to shop online, if you’re just starting out it’s worth going into the store and speaking with the staff about the right bike (and the right size) for you! Not having the correct bike could lead to lower back, neck and elbow pain which will put you off cycling and ultimately diminish your interest in the sport.

The other piece of equipment you shouldn’t go without is a helmet. All the other bits and pieces can be added to your kit as you go.

As for the workout, try to find long stretches without traffic lights or anything else that will interrupt your ride so you can get into a steady rhythm of pedalling, rather than pedalling and coasting). The ideal pace is roughly 80 to 90 revolutions per minute to provide steady cardio training. Anything less and the gear you’re in probably too hard.

If you’re relatively fit, aim for a 30 to 45-minute ride. Afterwards you can expect some soreness in you quads, glutes and calves, as well as your neck and shoulders, since they will have worked hard to support your upper body. This pain can be mitigated by ensuring you take the necessary steps to avoid soreness after a workout.

As your strength and endurance improves, increase the distance, time and speed of your rides. Try adding sprints, starting at 30 seconds and building up to a few minutes and eventually change up your route to try find more hills or inclines. Try aiming for longer rides on the weekends where possible. With any workout, cycling requires you to give your body rest days to counter your heavy workouts.

A great way to stay motivated with your training is to sign up for a race or charity ride. Joining a cycling club is a great way to meet likeminded people. Not only would they be great company from time to time on your rides, they can most likely introduce you to new routes to keep your routine from getting stale.

Finally, as with any outdoor sport, you’re going to be at the mercy of the elements so prepare for the weather with appropriate attire and ensure you have provisions like water on hand.

Healthy Living is a frequently updated content section brought to you by the Saudi Sports for All Federation. In the spirit of supporting our #HealthyActiveCommunity, we’re sharing tips around wellness, physical activity and more!

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