They say you never forget how to ride a bicycle. So why not put this to the test and start cycling again, even it has been years or decades since your last cycle ride. It may be the middle of winter where you live but now might be the perfect time to plan your return to cycling come the spring – giving you time to get your gear and your attitude in place and perhaps even choosing a bicycle for a Christmas gift either from someone near and dear to you or to give to yourself.
A lightweight frame with mountain bike tyres can make the perfect bike for both commuting and leisure
However, take time to decide what sort of bike will suit you best as there can be plenty of choice. If you go to a store, sit on the bike to ensure it feels comfortable and the right size for you. The better the bike, the more comfortable and enjoyable the ride will be for you.
- Cycling can be the one of the best ways to get fit because you are not bound by any timetables, you can fit it into your regular daily routine. Cycling helps to build your stamina so in turn you can carry out your day-to-day activities more effectively.
- Cycling gets your hearts and lungs pumping to strengthen the cardiovascular system and minimize the risk of coronary heart disease. Essentially an aerobic exercise, it gives your heart, blood vessels and lungs a workout to reduce the risk of heart problems while at the same time controlling your blood pressure level.
- Just a short cycle ride 4 times a week can improve aerobic fitness by 11% after just 6 weeks. Cycling will help reduce the risk of many chronic conditions such as diabetes and even certain cancers.
- Cycling has a positive effect on our mental health with 85% of those suffering from depression finding they can improve their symptoms when they go cycling in an outdoors environment. The pleasure and satisfaction derived from cycling alleviates all the stress, anxiety and depression.
- Cycling boosts the immune system with both exercise and extra vitamin D from the sunlight exposure. As a general rule, cyclists live longer than non cyclists. Cycling enhances the overall fitness level of a person by making you breathe deeper and perspire more. You can get up a sweat.
- Cycling helps you to lose excess weight. Cycling for just 30 minutes a day can burn over 11 pounds of fat in a year. While managing weight, cycling helps to get rid of that increased waistline. A few miles of cycling per day assures trimmer and toned muscles because your upper thigh muscles, buttocks and calf muscles all get to workout.
- There is a social benefit too. As a leisure activity, cycling gives you the opportunity to spend time with friends or the chance to meet new people and discover new places.
- Cycling instead of driving your car makes you feel good about doing your bit for the environment. You will be helping to ease traffic congestion, reduce your carbon footprint and your fuel expenses. Cycling is a complete environmentally-friendly activity. You will be adding no harmful or toxic chemicals to the air.
Worldwide, cities and towns are becoming more cycling-friendly
Special routes and more cycle lanes are becoming available all the time.
Those top 15 cycling cities in the world include:
– of course Amsterdam - plus Barcelona, Berlin (where 400 000 commuters pedal to work every day), Copenhagen and Paris.
has its own set:
- Boulder, Denver where nearly every major roadway has a designated cycling area.
- Davis, California where it is said there are more bikes than cars with the population of 65 000. The official motto for the town is “the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States”.
- Ottawa in Canada.
- Portland which most people consider to be the bike capital of the US.
- San Francisco.
And elsewhere in the world includes
Beijing (with the highest number of cyclists in the world), Bogota and Perth...as well as my own home town of Cape Town in South Africa.