If you’re looking for an activity that promotes good heart health, strength of body and better mental health, then you’ve already made the best decision to take up cycling. Sports or hobbies such as this that get the heart pumping and the lungs filling up as so important when it comes to keeping good health. But just getting on a bike and riding around town is not conclusive to being a good cyclist. You must ensure you’re being considerate of both yourself and those around you in terms of safety and good practices to truly maintain this positive lifestyle. We explore some of the best methods for staying safe and healthy before, during and after riding your bike.
A Good Diet
Eating the right foods is important for all of us, regardless of our pastimes. But when you’re pursuing such an active lifestyle, especially one where you’re out and about around cities and busy roads, you’ll need to be a bit more vigilant with consuming the right stuff.
Foods that keep your energy levels up are probably the most essential thing you should be thinking about when preparing for your ride. Slow-release carbohydrates in foods such as bananas or energy bars should be the first on the list before getting on your bike. The last thing you want is to lose concentration or run out of power in the middle of nowhere, or some place busy like a city center. It’s also a smart idea to take some high-energy food with you as a pick-me-up, just in case!
Other than this, you’re going to want to build up a great diet plan to make the most out of your time exercising. Try to eat little and often rather than 3 meals a day, as this is well documented to be better for both weight loss and keeping your energy up. Have a decent snack between breakfast and lunch, and lunch and dinner, followed by something between dinner and bedtime.
Try to stick to whole grain foods when picking things such as rice, pastas, and bread. And don’t forget to pick lean meats like chicken and fish or if you’re vegetarian/vegan, find a healthy alternative like tofu. Remember, a bit of fat in our diets is good for us but try to choose healthy unsaturated fats in foods like avocado over unhealthy saturated fats in crisps and red meat.
Stretching Before And After
One of the worst things you can do when taking up cycling or any other activity is forgetting to properly stretch out your muscles before and after a session. Find yourself some great, full body routines when preparing for your ride. Focusing on the legs makes sense of course, but we use most of our muscles when on a bike, so don’t forget about the rest!
Exercises like shoulder reaches, chest stretches, and cat-cow stretches, are just as important as butt kicks, leg swings, and heel-toe walks. Ensuring a good balance of stretches across your entire body is a brilliant way to stay in good condition so that you don’t end up missing any bike rides due to cramping or muscle soreness.
Yoga is a fantastic way of tackling your stretching quota and there are so many amazing tutorials and routines out there to make sure you’re working every muscle group. Try these recommended yoga poses for beginner cyclists, to be done after a ride.
Gear And Safety
Lots of us rued having to wear a helmet when we went to ride around with our friends as kids. But there is a reason for that level of safety which we all become far more aware of as we get older. Unfortunately, those risks don’t become apparent to everyone and sometimes it ends up being too late for some. Using the right equipment when you’re riding a bike is nothing to be scoffed at. The dangers of falling off, whether it’s caused by your own carelessness or someone else’s, can be life altering. Wearing a helmet genuinely can save your life, but there are other things you can consider to make sure you remain as safe as possible when out on your bike. Make yourself as visible as possible to other road users.
Utilizing the gadgets such as lights and brake lights can give drivers a better understanding of where you are and what you’re doing. High-visibility jackets are a great option too, especially at nighttime or in bad weather conditions. As well as staying safe and visible, you’ll also want to make sure you have some essential tools with you in case anything goes wrong with your bike. Tire repair kits which include a multitool and spare tire tubes are so important to bring with you. Get yourself a good saddlebag that can hold all the important gear you will need. As they say, it’s better to have it and not need than to need it and not have it!