Five mental benefits of cycling

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Like many fitness-based hobbies and endeavors, cycling can provide a fair amount of both physical benefits, ranging from improved cardiovascular health to increases in leg muscle. However, cycling also holds a lot of potential in terms of its mental benefits. These benefits range from mood enhancements to a spike in general sharpness during the day.

Here are a few of the biggest mental benefits of cycling.

 

Better memory

We all forget now and then, but a cycling lifestyle can keep you above average in terms of remembrance. Cycling, and most aerobic exercise in general, acts as a natural stimulant for the brain, increasing blood flow and supplying oxygen and nutrients. A quick bike ride may be exactly what you need to clear your mind and bring forgotten matters back into the foreground.

 

Better self-confidence

The feeling of accomplishment attached to most sports and fitness hobbies is reason enough to get up off the couch. Cycling, however, holds a unique strand of this positive emotion; it provides the rare chance to push yourself to your aerobic threshold for miles on end, reflecting on the journey later on. This process can maximize your confidence — if anything, take pride in the fact that you are doing something not many other people do, on average.

 

Better all-around mood

Perhaps the most important mental benefit of cycling is that it can positively influence your mood. A little exercise on a regular basis can go a long way in terms of keeping you generally happy and, as mentioned in the previous section, confident in yourself as a physically fit human being. Aerobic exercise has also been linked to improvements in anxiety and depression, making it a powerful natural remedy for potentially crippling mood swings.

 

Better challenge management

Cycling is not always intended to be a highly painful, grueling affair, but it can greatly increase your threshold for pain and physical challenge in general — regardless of the intensity at which you ride. Building physical endurance can translate well into mental endurance by fostering an ability to compartmentalize a pressing or tiring situation (for example, you may take a long ride a mile at a time rather than focusing on the entire intended distance from the start). Building this type of mental muscle memory is a great practice for improving your overall quality of life.

 

Better connectivity

Research has shown that continued practice of the same motor skill can improve connectivity within the brain’s various regions, and what is cycling but a continuous motion over an extended period of time? By pedaling on a regular basis, you can increase the amount of your brain’s white matter, or the parts of the brain that facilitate smooth communication between regions — this will keep you thinking smoothly and clearly.

Tips for beginning cyclists

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Millions of Americans, myself included, ride bikes.  And that number is growing all the time.  If you’re thinking of joining the growing number of people joining the cycling movement, here are some tips for beginner cyclists, taken from a great post I read on the site active.com:

 

Protect your skull

Every year, head injuries are responsible for nearly 60% of cycling deaths in the US, and many of these could be avoided by wearing a helmet.  Many states have bike helmet laws, but law or no law, you should always wear one.  And if you’re cycling with your kids, make sure they do too.  

 

Use your gears

When climbing hills, shift into a gear that will keep your cadence in the right range of rpm’s, so that you can make it without putting undue stress on your knees.  

 

…and avoid pedaling in high gear for too long

A good rule of thumb is to try and keep your cadence between 70 and 90 rpm’s.  When you pedal in a high gear, then it puts added strain on your knees.

 

Get the right saddle

The right saddle makes a huge difference when you’re riding.  The thickest padding won’t necessarily give you the most comfortable ride.  Generally the best type of saddle is a longer seat with a cutout.  

 

Change position while riding

If you keep your hands, arms, or rear in the same position for too long, then they risk getting numb.  To avoid this, make sure you mix things up.  Move your hands around on the bars, and move your rear end around on the saddle.  

 

Don’t ride with your headphones on

A lot of people enjoy listening to music or podcasts while they’re working out.  But that’s not something you want to do when you’re riding a bike.  If you can’t hear an emergency vehicle or other commotions behind you or off to the side because your music is playing too loud, then that can be extremely dangerous.  If you do want music, try for a small clip-on radio with a speaker that you can attach to your jersey.  

 

Know the rules

Ride with traffic and obey all road signs.  They’re meant for bikes just as much as cars!  Keep a close eye on all cars in front of you so that you can try and anticipate what they’re going to do.  

 

Keep your head up

Keep your helmeted head up in front far enough so that you’ll be able to react to any obstacles in the road, or on the shoulder in front of you.  You want to be aware of what’s coming ahead; something like a storm drain grate is very bad for skinny road bike tires.  

The best cycling apps

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Like most aerobic fitness endeavors, cycling requires hard work in a variety of ways: commitment to training, planning routes and loops, developing a weekly schedule that works with your unique employment routine, and making sure your bike is regularly maintained for optimal performance.

With so many variables constantly at play, a biker’s life can occasionally be as hectic as it is relaxing and addictive. Luckily, there are a variety of technological resources available to make cycling an easier and smoother process, namely a long list of useful smartphone apps dedicated to the sports’ most crucial fundamentals.

Here are a few of the best cycling apps.

 

Strava

Strava has risen as a household name in fitness-based smartphone app technology. Aimed mainly at cyclists, runners, and walkers, the app records periods of activity and allows users to simultaneously log them and share them with other Strava users. For cyclists, the app is a great tool for monitoring rides and recording time over set segments.

 

Bike Gear Calculator

Simply titled, but infinitely useful, the Bike Gear Calculator app “is a quick way to compare different gears on your bike and on setups you’re considering, and for seeing how fast you’ll be travelling in a given gear at a particular cadence (pedal revolutions per minute).” The app serves as a great measuring tool and foresight resource for upcoming rides and races.

 

Cyclemeter

Cyclemeter’s main strength is its ability to use past and current experiences to contribute to future training approaches. The app implements GPS ride data to store your progress, focusing primarily on speed, distance, and overall time.

 

Garmin Connect Mobile

Like Strava, Garmin Connect Mobile stands as a popular resource among many different types of aerobic athletes. Specifically for cyclists, the app provides an advanced ride logging system through the Garmin Connect database, which can also be shared across Strava, MyFitnessPal, and other leading fitness-based apps. By using this app, cyclists will also have access to other Garmin features such as LiveTrack, which allows others to track you in real time during a ride.

 

Fill that Hole
Fundamentally different than the other apps on this list, Fill that Hole is a unique and quirky app designed to let cyclists report potholes and other road hazards to local authorities. The UK-based service strives to make the hazard reporting process easier and less micromanaged in terms of communication. After all, a roadside direct line of communication is a lot easier to navigate than a weekly municipal government meeting.

4 Tips Every Beginning Cyclist Should Know

 

Mark Dziuban offers 4 tips.
Mark Dziuban offers 4 tips.

 

 

Cycling is a great way to become physically active while providing an outlet for the adventurous and travel-minded individual. It’s a great way to boost your aerobic activity. It’s also an excellent way to support the environment. All beginning cyclists can benefit from the following tips, designed to get you logging dozens of miles in no time.

 

Develop a Plan

 

The sooner you create a plan for your cycling routine, the faster you will see results. Cycling, like any form of aerobic conditioning, requires a steady, but slow, plan. You can find hundreds of training plans online or in cycling guidebooks. These plans help get you from a low-mileage position to race-ready in a matter of weeks or months. Check out this plan, featured on Bicycling.com.

Additionally, researching local races or rides can be a great motivator to put your plan in action. You’ll find it easier to stick with your weekly and monthly goals when you have your eye on a larger prize.

 

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Invest in Proper Equipment

 

What tools do cyclists need? To start, you’ll need to research what type of bike is right for you. Check out REI’s guide, here, for an overview–road, mountain, crossover, folding? Be sure to have your bike fitted. Test rides are an extremely important process in buying this investment piece. Unlike a pair of sneakers that may only last a season, a high-quality bike can provide you with years of value.

Necessary accessories include safety gear (helmet and reflective clothing), tail lights, an adjustable mirror, a travel-sized tool kit, and a small saddle bag to hold your accessories. It’s not a bad idea to keep a rain jacket, water bottle, and snacks with you, either.

 

Take care of the human machine

 

This is a crucial tip for any new fitness program. Proper self-care will provide you with a solid foundation. After each workout, carve out time to stretch. Make healthy eating a priority. Keep track of the hours that you sleep and strive for longer sessions. Because cycling is such a time-consuming and physically strenuous activity, it’s also important to fit the activity around your professional life. As a beginner, it’s not advisable to log a difficult workout after spending 10 hours in the office. Train when you’re fresh and take time to recover when you’re feeling tired. Living a healthy lifestyle will support all of your physical endeavours and allow you to reach your fitness goals faster.

 

Row of Bikes. 4 Tips for New Cyclists

 

Join a Community

 

Finding a community of riders can be a huge help in motivation. Stop by your local bike shop for teams that ride in the area. Just like the bicycle, you’ll want to find the right group for you. Groups will differ widely in terms of style and purpose. It’s most beneficial to first find a “no drop” team. During the ride, experienced cyclists will fall back to help those unable to continue with the pack. Before you begin your group adventure, you’ll want to be sure you can ride in a straight line, have all of the proper equipment, and are capable of controlling your speed.
If you’re not ready for the large group ride, why not enlist a friend or family member to start the hobby with you. You’ll receive the same amount of motivation with less stress.

 

Bike shot. 4 Tips for new cyclists.