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Biking For Health

How to incorporate cycling into your healthy lifestyle

If you're looking for the perfect complement to a healthy lifestyle, you'll find it in bicycling. Many people enjoy riding so much that they bike to work, pedal to the store and for errands and cruise around the neighborhood with the family for fun.

Exercise Injury-Free
Unlike many other popular forms of exercise, biking is done on a machine that supports your weight. Consequently, there's no impact on your feet, ankles, knees and back. So, you're a lot less likely to get injured as you roll up the miles.

What's more, modern bikes are more comfortable than ever with features such as plush saddles, shock-absorbing frames, and back-friendly riding positions. You'll also find low gears that make hill climbing easier than ever, plus excellent braking systems for safety. And there are plenty of bike types to choose from, from comfort models to zippy road machines to fun off-road two-wheelers ready for adventure.

Pedal Off The Pounds
Cycling is excellent for burning calories and losing weight, too. For example, a 160-pound person burns about 870 calories pedaling seventeen miles in an hour. That's pretty close to what the same person would burn running, and a lot more than the amount burned playing golf. If you maintain a regular ride schedule, avoid overeating and fatty foods, there's an excellent chance that biking will strip away excess weight.

Before beginning any exercise program, it's best to get a physical exam from your doctor. Then, begin riding with two or three outings a week, as time allows. It's always best to start easily and build up slowly over time. This allows your body to strengthen and get accustomed to pedaling and sitting on the bike.

A bike computer ($20-30 for a basic model) will help you track your progress. Choose a local route of appropriate distance for your fitness level, start the computer when you start your ride, and note the time it takes you when you're finished. Watching your time improve (and average speed, if your computer has that function) is a motivating way to monitor your progress.

After about six weeks, you should feel a noticeable difference in your legs and lungs and see the difference on your computer. You can gradually increase the mileage and intensity, if you wish. Or, simply keep riding for fun and enjoyment.

Miles Of Smiles
It's this fun factor that keeps most cyclists hooked on riding. It gets you out and about so can see things and enjoy the outdoors while exercising. You get to coast down hills, explore new areas, sneak up on wildlife, and get swept along by tailwinds. You can ride with friends and talk. You can set goals: making it to the top of a tough hill or riding to nearby towns. Maybe you'd like to set a major goal, pedaling to raise money to fight cancer, for instance.

Many cyclists find these things fun, motivating and rewarding. And, all the while, without thinking about it much, they stay fit and healthy. Bicycling: It could be the perfect fountain of youth.