Life Health

Back in the Saddle

By Donna Cotnam, Daily Observer

A terrific way to get your workout in and enjoy the great outdoors is to hop on your bike and hit the road.

I’m sure many of us have been biking since since we were children. It has always been perceived as a fun thing to do. When we were kids we never considered it ‘exercise,’ but biking is a fabulous cardiovascular workout.

We also don’t give much thought to how the muscles involved in peddling actually work. Almost all of the lower body muscles intricately engage as they are put to use.  
 
The body mechanics involved in peddling a bike simultaneously call upon muscles to work in total cooperation. While one leg is on the down stroke engaging the gluets, hamstrings and calves, the other is on the uptake working the quads and shins. Of course the hip flexors play a key role throughout and strong core muscles aid in the whole peddling process.
It may sound a bit odd that I refer to biking as a process but when you use equipment of any sort you need to work in sync. 
 
Right from the get go, it’s important to be comfortable on your bike. Check out your seat height. Can you adjust your handle bars? Make sure you are positioned for comfort in the back, neck and legs. Be sure that your helmet is fitting snuggly and you are good to go.
 
There are just a few safety items for your check list beginning with plan your route and know the roads you will be taking. If you are riding off road, make sure someone knows where you are headed. If you are planning a long trip, it might be a good idea to pack some tools and bike parts. Don’t forget some beverages and snacks.
 
If you want to make your ride a little more challenging, try to incorporate some additional exercises. Ride to a point, hope off the bike and do a few pushups. Hop back on and away you go until your next stop - maybe some squats at this one. If you have the chance to add some hills, that will really put those legs to work. Cut yourself some slack too and once you get to the top of the hill, take a break, stretch and have a snack.
 
Don’t forget to bring extra clothes, maybe some rain gear, and wear bright colours to be safe.
 
Biking can be a great family activity. Turn it into a scavenger hunt. Let everyone take turns in coming up with an exercise to do at each stop. Make sure you take the time to stretch at the end of the day and have a great ride!
 
If there are any specific fitness related questions you would like addressed please email them to fitmom@hotmail.com.