Inspiration from Cycling!
A few years ago I knew a man who went to his doctor frequently for help with his varicose veins. The doctor prescribed him some custom-made support hose and told him to start riding a bike for long distances. He told him to wear the support hose while he rode. I thought this was odd. I couldn’t imagine wearing support hose while riding a bike but agreed that he should do exactly what his doctor said. We were casual acquaintances and I didn’t see this fellow for quite a while. Years later I asked him how that advice worked for him and he said that he didn’t have any trouble with his legs anymore, that the veins were barely visible and didn’t hurt at all. I was amazed!
More recently I met a woman in her sixties who had a lot of stress in her life. As she took steps to alleviate some of this killer stress, she began riding for long distances. Within about a year, this woman appeared to lose about 20 years! She trimmed down and instead of stress and worry lines, she developed a permanent, peaceful smile. Now she travels across country to ride in major events and loves her life.
As a child I rode long distances simply for fun. The freedom of the wind in my hair and the quiet countryside where I rode was exhilarating. I had a stressful childhood and was always trying to lose weight. My bicycle was my ticket to peace and helped me keep the ever-creeping scale in it’s rightful place for a few years.
Cycling Health Benefits
Cycling is low impact which makes it ideal for some people who avoid high impact exercise. It’s an aerobic activity so your heart and lungs get an excellent workout! All of the major skeletal muscles are engaged during cycling and the calf of the leg is utilized to return blood to your heart efficiently during a ride. The calf muscles are called the second heart because they are so important in circulating the blood back to the heart from your lower extremities. Read about them in the article, Sexy Strong Legs to better understand the importance of keeping your calf muscles healthy.
Cycling is known to increase stamina and overall strength and can be performed at the level you choose. There’s no one-size-fits-all to reap the benefits of cycling. It’s versatile and will provide benefits regardless of the intensity that you ride. Always consult your doctor for guidelines about how hard you should exercise and before beginning any exercise or weight loss program.
Joint mobility is improved by regular cycling and bones are strengthened. Aerobic activities burn body fat and a 14-15.9 mile per hour ride will torch up to 372 calories in an hour for a 155 pound person. (1) There is even evidence that suggests that colon and breast cancer risks may be reduced by regular cycling. (2) Since a lack of physical activity is thought to play a part in the development of Type 2 Diabetes, cycling may reduce your risk of developing that dreadful disease by as much as 40%.
There’s nothing as frustrating or as dangerous as rounding a curve on a mountain road and suddenly realizing that there are bicycles EVERYWHERE! I don’t know how I have missed hitting a cyclist that was riding close to the center line, more than once. Use some common sense. It doesn’t matter what your rights are if you have put yourself in danger!
Ride in lanes and on tracks that are specially designated to cyclists. Follow all traffic laws including signaling before a turn. Be especially careful at busy intersections and always wear a good helmet and other protective gear as you see fit. The reason that cyclists wear those tight clothes is safety! Loose clothing caught in chains or spokes can be deadly. Wear reflective gear at night and always have your bike lit. Use sunscreen, hats and good UV-resistant sunglasses. You can even buy clothing with UV protection built right in to help. Clothing is not a replacement for sunscreen. Use both. If you have any condition that is worsened by cycling then by all means, don’t do it. If you really get hooked on cycling then when the weather is bad you can ride a stationary bike indoors. You can read my review of the Xterra Dual Action Bike to get an idea about a good mid-price bike that exercises your entire body. Always have plenty of water for hydration or if you like, you might try an electrolyte replacement drink, especially for long distances or in hot weather. Rediscover your inner child and get lean and healthy while you’re doing it.