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Cycling for Health and Fitness

Cycling for Health and Fitness

Cycling for Health and Fitness

Cycling is an excellent aerobic exercise that not only comprehensively exercises internal organs but also significantly improves cardiovascular endurance. Long-term cycling can develop heart muscles, enhance vascular elasticity, increase lung capacity, and improve respiratory system function. Compared to activities like jogging, cycling imposes less impact on the lower limbs while effectively exercising leg muscles, joints, and mobilizing the trunk and upper limb muscles. Studies indicate that cycling promotes optimal emotional states, resilience, vitality, and confidence, which are beneficial for mental health and overall happiness.

Choosing the Right Bike

According to elite cyclist Tang Haoran, scientific cycling starts with choosing the right bike. For beginners, lightweight flat-handlebar road bikes are suitable for daily workouts due to their speed and suitability for city cycling trails. These bikes are structurally simple, easy to maintain, and offer storage space. Mountain bikes, on the other hand, are puncture-resistant, stable, and have good shock absorption, making them ideal for tackling complex terrains like mountain trails.

In terms of equipment, it's advisable to wear cycling clothing made from quick-dry fabrics that absorb moisture. Cycling jerseys with small pockets are convenient for carrying items such as mobile phones. Professional cycling shorts feature thick padding in the seat area to reduce pressure on the lower body. While clip-in shoes may not be necessary for casual cyclists, it's recommended to wear sport shoes with firm soles to alleviate foot fatigue.

Correct Cycling Posture

For the average cyclist, the correct posture involves a slight forward lean, straight arms, tightened abdomen, diaphragmatic breathing, coordinated knees and hip joints, and attention to cycling rhythm. To prevent injuries, beginners should limit cycling sessions to 1-2 hours and distances of 15-20 kilometers for effective exercise. Cyclists should take breaks, change positions regularly during rides, avoid prolonged static cycling, and warm up before long rides, followed by cooling down exercises afterward. It's beneficial to wear a sports bracelet or heart rate monitor to monitor heart rate changes and adjust cycling intensity accordingly.

The Golden Triangle Weight Distribution Principle

Correct cycling posture not only enhances cycling efficiency but also reduces muscle and joint injuries. Follow the "Golden Triangle Weight Distribution Principle": during cycling, maintain body weight balance among the handlebars, saddle, and pedals to alleviate pressure on the waist. Keep the cervical spine naturally straight, avoiding excessive bending or straightening, and ensure natural eye level for proper neck position. Maintain a slightly forward-leaning posture with a straight spine, extended arms, tightened abdomen, and slightly inward-facing legs.

Body Responses After Cycling

Some individuals may experience thigh muscle soreness after cycling, which is a normal reaction. Cycling requires significant exertion from the knee and thigh muscles, leading to muscle congestion and soreness. It's advisable to gradually reduce speed and walk the bike for a while after cycling, allowing the body to adjust. Taking a hot bath upon returning home can help relax the body. If chronic pain or discomfort in the limbs, neck, waist, or back persists after cycling, seek professional rehabilitation evaluation and treatment promptly.

Safety Precautions for Cycling

Doctors remind cyclists to observe the following safety precautions:

  • Adhere to traffic rules: Do not run red lights or ride against traffic. Avoid cycling under the influence of alcohol.
  • Avoid high-speed cycling: Bicycle tires are narrow, and balance depends entirely on the rider's control. Higher speeds require greater rider skill, especially on downhill slopes, curves, or slippery roads, where faster speeds can lead to loss of control and serious injuries. While cyclists typically wear helmets and other protective gear, high-speed falls can result in fractures or even serious injuries such as cervical spine fractures or whiplash injuries, leading to paralysis or death. Impact with the main road surface can cause injuries to vital organs like the heart and massive bleeding from aortic rupture, which can be life-threatening.
  • Wear a helmet: Wearing a helmet while cycling is a good habit. Helmets can reduce head injuries related to cycling by 48% and reduce fatal injuries by 34%.
  • Avoid distractions: Do not use or answer mobile phones while cycling. If necessary, stop in a safe area before using a phone.
  • Handling emergencies: During mountain or rough terrain cycling, if headaches, vomiting, or falls occur, lie down immediately and rest, assess injuries preliminarily, and wait for rescue.
  • Bike maintenance: Regularly lubricate the bike chain, inflate tires, tighten screws, avoid exposing the bike to sunlight or rain, and replace brake pads and other consumables regularly.

Health Benefits of Cycling

Cycling is not only a fun activity but also a healthy exercise. Here are some health benefits of cycling:

  • Low impact: Compared to most other forms of exercise, cycling imposes less stress and injury on joints. It is a low-impact exercise suitable for all ages.
  • Comprehensive exercise: Cycling exercises all major muscle groups, improving overall muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Easy to learn: Cycling does not require high physical skills. Most people know how to ride a bike and once learned, it's not easily forgotten.
  • Strength and endurance: Cycling enhances endurance, strength, and aerobic fitness. Whether high-intensity racing or leisurely slow cycling, both provide varying degrees of fitness benefits.
  • Adjustable intensity: Cycling intensity can be adjusted according to personal needs. For those recovering from injury or illness, cycling can start from low intensity and gradually increase to high-intensity physical exercise.
  • Fun fitness: Compared to other sports that require indoor confinement or specific times and places, cycling adventures and thrills outdoors make it more likely for people to maintain regular cycling.
  • High time efficiency: As a mode of transportation, cycling can replace sedentary time spent driving motor vehicles or riding trams, trains, or buses with healthy exercise.

Conclusion

Scientific cycling not only improves physical health comprehensively but also promotes psychological well-being. Whether choosing the right bike, mastering correct cycling posture, or ensuring cycling safety, these are essential factors for effective cycling and reducing injuries. Through regular cycling exercise, it's possible to effectively prevent serious diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis, making cycling a simple, effective, and infinitely enjoyable fitness method.

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