Biking as a low-impact exercise
Running was your go-to for stress relief. Then your joints started to ache, and you learned that the cartilage in your knees had worn thin. Now, without that cushiony support, running is too painful to continue on a regular basis.
If this scenario, or one similar, is your story, then you’re a prime candidate for biking. Or maybe you just haven’t gotten around to trying it. Either way, you should give biking a chance. It has a lot more to offer than you might know.
Benefits – Biking is a fluid, consistent motion. This means that it’s low-impact, going easy on your tired joints and yet still giving your body a steady workout. Like swimming, the act of biking engages a high percentage of your large muscle groups, so you burn more calories and increase your metabolism. Biking has been shown to help people lose weight at a faster rate than other aerobic activities; it also promotes general muscle tone and could decrease your waist size. Biking has also been deemed beneficial for mental health because it’s relaxing and the motion of cycling is calming and repetitive.
Proper Form – Whether you join a spin class or take to the open road, you should carefully maintain proper form to prevent unnecessary pain. “Bike fit” is the biggest factor in the prevention of back pain, meaning your bike should be fitted specifically to your body. A professional can help you adjust your seat height, your pedals, and your handlebars so you aren’t straining your back when you ride. Overstretching with your legs or straining too far forward on your handlebars can lead to prolonged pain during and after cycling. If you decide to purchase a bike, do some research on the best bike for your needs and take a few styles for test drives. A road bike would be great for open stretches of highway but would cause you major problems on the terrain of a mountain trail. Overall, proper bike fit is critical to your success on the bike and can make all the difference in how effective and enjoyable cycling can be.
When done well, biking can feel like an extension of your body. You can reach high speeds, seeing the world around you. For most biking enthusiasts, it’s that chance to explore that keeps them returning to the bike. Sure, biking can increase your overall health and reduce joint pain, but it’s also pure fun.