And last week in Part IV
, we covered why and how to add cardiovascular exercise into your workouts. Cycling is also cardio, but, due to its popularity, I wanted to give it special attention.
During lockdown, both indoor and outdoor bike purchases rose dramatically, and for good reason. Cycling offers all the mental and physical health benefits of other forms of cardio, including weight loss, without many disadvantages.
Remember, in the last article, we talked about how too much long-distance running can lead to muscle loss and decrease in bone density? Comparatively, biking burns the same number of calories as running without diminishing returns.
That said, the rounded posture and repetitive pedaling motion of cycling can create tension in your back and hips that, over time, can lead to chronic issues if not adequately addressed. Utilizing the right exercises in your overall training, which I share below, can counteract the potential for bike-related aches and pains.
Select a bike that's right for you
The first consideration when you're taking up or restarting a cycling program is to determine whether you'll be riding inside or outside — or a combination of both. Some factors to consider include year-round climate, traffic, access to bike trails, air quality and bike budget.
Outdoor bike options:
When it comes to outdoor bikes
, there are two main categories: road bikes and mountain bikes. Keep in mind that a standard road bike is designed strictly for speed on the road, with the goal of being as aerodynamic as possible.
Conversely, you can still use a mountain bike on the road, but its wider, deeper-traction tires will slow you down quite a bit unless you swap them out for road-style tires. I know this from experience because I have a mountain bike that I use frequently on the road. Since my goal is to exercise, I don't mind having to work a little harder to go faster on a smooth surface, while still having the option to go off road.
The staff at most any bike shop will be able to help you determine the right bike for your needs and budget. Investing in a decent bike can be pricey but, with proper maintenance, it will last decades. My bike had a price tag of just under a thousand dollars 20 years ago (which was a lot for a bike