Cycling helps build leg muscles
To go biking
Bicycle riding - that's what it takes
Exactly 200 years ago, the German inventor Karl Drais rode through Mannheim for the first time on a running machine he had developed, the so-called draisine - this moment is considered to be the birth of cycling. Since then, the bicycle has developed rapidly; today every second German uses it regularly as a companion in everyday life, as a sports or leisure device.
Cycling is considered to be excellent endurance training that is easy on the joints and strengthens the whole body. The intensity of the workload can be adjusted very well, from short tours on the plain with the family to demanding mountain stages and off-road trips, everything is possible.
One of the most important questions many beginners ask themselves: Which muscles are trained when cycling? The answer: almost all of them! Legs, buttocks and back are strengthened when cycling, as are arms, shoulders and neck.
Losing weight with cycling is also very possible, up to 800 kilocalories per hour are feasible - of course, depending on the intensity and body weight. Bicycling is a very steady movement, it improves the condition and also has positive effects on the psyche, as numerous studies show.
Who is cycling particularly suitable for?
Before you start cycling regularly, you should always consult a doctor - if he gives the green light, you can start cycling. Cycling is particularly suitable for people who have the following ailments:
Cycling is considered the workout of choice for obese people. Because the joints, especially the hips and knees, which are stressed by the excessive body weight, are spared. The calorie consumption is also positive for overweight people: cycling helps them lose weight - depending on the intensity and body weight, up to 800 kilocalories per hour are possible. If you want to burn calories while cycling, you are spot on.
Contrary to previous opinions, it is wrong to go easy on a weak heart. Studies show that cycling can significantly improve health and performance in the case of cardiac insufficiency - by up to 25 percent, depending on the amount of training. Experts at the Leipzig Heart Center have found that cycling can also reduce mortality by over 30 percent.
However, heart failure patients should be carefully controlled with medication and only exercise after consulting their doctor in order to adapt the intensity and duration of cycling to their state of health.
Cycling also has a preventive effect: A study by Purdue University in Indiana found that easy cycling can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 50 percent.
Even losing weight by riding a bike can alleviate back pain for some sufferers, as being overweight is often associated with this problem. In addition, cycling strengthens muscles and ligaments, the isometric holding position on the bike trains the back muscles in particular, shoulders and triceps are also challenged. A suitable, relatively upright sitting position is important for back patients because it relieves the neck and shoulder girdle.
Cycling during pregnancy
We have already explained that cycling is healthy. Doctors also recommend cycling during pregnancy as a very suitable and particularly gentle exercise. Of course, you should take it easy and under no circumstances race down the mountains on a downhill bike - that would be too dangerous for you and your child. But casual bike tours and weekend trips in good weather are ideal for expectant mothers and can be done until shortly before the birth. Cycling increases your stamina, burns up to 500 calories per hour, strengthens the respiratory muscles and thus alleviates any shortness of breath that can occur especially in the last trimester of pregnancy.
Cycling - the equipment
The most important accessory for cycling is of course the bike itself. Here we present the five most important bike types and their respective areas of application:
The city bike
A classic city bike is a reliable everyday companion, can transport small purchases and sometimes take a short tour. The frame is mostly made of aluminum, the tire size is 28 or 26 inches. The sitting position is upright in order to have a good overview in traffic. An easy-care gear hub with or without a coaster brake, a hub dynamo, mudguards and a sturdy luggage rack make sense.
The trekking bike
It is considered the all-rounder among bicycles and is just as suitable for the city as it is for touring. Here, too, the frame is mostly made of aluminum, the tire size is 28 inches. There are models that are completely roadworthy, but there are also more sporty versions without a mudguard, fixed lighting system and luggage rack.
If you like to go off-road, you need a mountain bike. It usually has a light aluminum or carbon frame, wide, coarse tires with a size of currently 27.5 or 29 inches. So-called hard tails have a suspension fork at the front, while fullys are equipped with suspension forks and rear shock absorbers. There are many sub-categories depending on the area of application - for example all mountain, enduro or race bikes.
The racing bike
Light, filigree and fast - this is how racing bikes can be characterized. They cause a rush of speed on asphalt, have very narrow tires with high air pressure and usually an aluminum or carbon frame. They are not suitable for everyday use, but excellent for long tours on paved paths.
The e-bike is experiencing a real boom. It is equipped with an electric drive that assists the driver while he is pedaling. From a speed of 25 kilometers per hour, the motor switches off for safety reasons, so a driver's license and insurance license plate are not required for standard e-bikes and there is no obligation to wear a helmet. So-called S-Pedelecs, on the other hand, are legally small motorcycles, helmets are compulsory and you need a car or moped driver's license to drive them.
E-bikes are particularly popular with commuters to get to work, they get to their destination much faster and more relaxed - with a significantly higher average speed. Cycling is considered a particularly environmentally friendly way of commuting - and you are doing something good for your health in the process.
The best thing to do is to seek advice from a specialist bicycle shop, where you can also extensively test various models.
You also need that
If you want to ride a bike regularly, you need the right basic equipment for the right bike. This includes a well-ventilated helmet (from approx. 30 euros), a pair of cycling gloves (from approx. 15 euros) and cycling glasses that offer protection from the wind, the sun and insects (from approx. 30 euros). For those with sporty ambitions, functional cycling clothing, shoes with a click system and a small bike rucksack with a wind / rain jacket, spare tube, mini pump and tools are also useful.
Equipment for cycling in winter
You should be particularly careful when cycling in winter. The ground can be slippery or even icy - well-tread tires offer more grip here. There are even special tires with spikes that adhere even better. When cycling in the cold season, it is essential to wear sufficiently warm clothing - the onion principle has proven itself here - several thin layers drawn on top of each other warm better than one thick layer thanks to the insulation.
Bicycle riding - the right technique
As children we all learned to ride a bike - but there are a few points to consider if you really want to ride a bike: Keep your upper body as still as possible when pedaling, the pedaling movement should come from the hips, knees and ankles are loose. Place the ball of your foot on the pedal, not your heel. Always downshift early on inclines, so you lose less speed and it is easier to pedal. Joints and muscles are spared.
Bicycle Riding - Mistakes To Avoid
Numerous studies have shown that you can improve your fitness and well-being extremely well by cycling. However, it is important to avoid certain mistakes so that you do not injure yourself and get the most out of your bike training. Here are the three most common mistakes - and how to fix them:
Wrong frame height
Many cyclists ride bikes that are clearly too big or too small. This can not only lead to dangerous injuries - for example if you have to get off quickly and sit on the top tube. It can also lead to postural problems and muscle tension.
To find the right frame size, first determine your stride length. Use a spirit level or a book to do this. Stand up straight against a wall without shoes. Measure with the folding rule from the floor to the top of the spirit level / book. This value is your stride length.
Which is the optimal frame height for you still depends on the choice of your bike (e.g. city bike or MTB). There are numerous input tools on the net to calculate it - but the safest thing to do is to have yourself measured in a specialist bicycle shop.
Training increase too fast
Cycling is very healthy - but as is so often the case, it depends on the right amount. Beginners should start with about three 30 minutes of relaxed cycling per week, you can gradually increase the scope and intensity. If you ride too much bike too fast, you not only prevent an increase in performance, you also risk injuries and overloading muscles, tendons and joints.
If you want to cycle regularly, you should wear a helmet, cycling gloves and cycling goggles as basic equipment (see item "Cycling - the equipment"). Functional clothing that keeps the body dry is also useful and, on longer tours, a small backpack with a wind / rain jacket, a small multitool, spare tube and mini pump. Because the radius you can reach while cycling is relatively long - if the weather suddenly changes or if you have a small breakdown, you are prepared for it.
If you follow these recommendations, you will do a lot for your health while cycling and you will have a lot of fun in the process.
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