Authored by Andy Chasse’ in Exercise
Published on 09-06-2009
Are there any distance runners in the crowd? Distance runners are a different kind of people. While the majority of people absolutely hate running, these guys absolutely love it. That’s great – because running of any sort offers a number of important health benefits. Swimmers, just like runners, are also a different group entirely. As with running, swimming also comes with a wealth of advantages to your health. Finally, we arrive at bicycling. Similar to swimming and running, bicycling requires a fair amount of conditioning and endurance, but at the same time comes loaded with a number of great benefits.
The benefits of bicycling are similar to those of running. At the gym, the most utilized cardio machines are the bicycles and treadmills – and for good reason. Both of these exercises offer benefits to overall health, general heart health and strength, aerobic endurance, and muscular endurance. One of the greatest things about bicycling that often raises its effectiveness above that of running is the level of joint impact. Running requires the constant up and down pounding of the feet onto a hard surface – treadmill, grass, or concrete. Your ankles and knees can only take this high impact movement for a short amount of time before they start to break down. Bicyling, on the other hand, is a low impact exercise. Although it still requires fairly consistent movement at the ankle, knee, and hip joints, there is no direct contact with a solid surface. This particular benefit goes a long way in preventing injury.
The benefits of bicycling may appear endless, but there are a few problems to watch out for. The most crucial of these problems involves the hip flexors. In any sitting position, your hips are flexed. This means that they are constantly under pressure. Have you ever heard a personal trainer rant about how detrimental a 9-5 desk job can be for your health? This is the exact same concept. Riding a bicycle plants you in a sitting position the entire time. A number of bikers see hip and knee issues arrive due to the constant flexion of the hips. It’s unlikely that this will affect a recreational cyclist, but it’s still something to watch out for.
With all of that background out of the way, check below for a couple of helpful bicycling tips.
- Be progressive. To receive the full benefits of bicycling, you must keep your body guessing. Adaptation to exercise is inevitable, but you can do a pretty good job of slowing it down if you play your cards right. Focus in intensity, frequency, and duration. These three variables may be changed between bicycling sessions to avoid hitting a plateau.
- Prehabilitate the hip flexors. Rehabilitation involves bringing an injured area back up to par. Prehabilitation, however, focuses on the prevention of injury. Self-myofascial release, or foam rolling, is one of the best prehabilitative options. In addition, hip-strengthening exercises such as Bulgarian split squats and box step-ups should be utilized. Perform these movements sparingly to avoid overtraining. Rather safe than sorry, right?