There are a number of activities that combine both fun and calorie-burning benefits. The majority of us who are exercise-phobic tend to leave exercise behind due to lack of interest.  One of the most popular, and easiest to get into, is bicycling. It takes very little effort and is full of healthy benefits for you and the whole family.

There are many reasons why bicycling is considered one of the best forms of exercise:

However, to make your ride more enjoyable and safe, consider the following guidelines:

Getting Started:

Wear a helmet - statistics show that 85% of all bicycling fatalities are a direct result of head injuries.  Wear bright clothing when in visibly poor situations and especially at night.   Use a headlight if riding after dusk.  Don't use Walkman-style radios.  Not only are these a dangerous sensory impairment, but they are a potential violation of city by-laws, as well.

Store packaged or parcels in baskets or bags specifically designed for bikes.  The safest and most comfortable are panniers (side pouches).  Backpacks can be a hazard as articles inside the pack may shift and throw you off balance.

Keep your hands on the upper part of the handlebar and change their position frequently to prevent cramping in hands, arms, shoulders and neck.  The "racing" position (hands on curved part of handlebars) is for racing only, and should not be used for normal bicycling.

Relaxed arms will allow the upper body to absorb the road bumps better, and knees should be bent with the buttocks slightly raised to prevent bouncing on the seat and inevitable bruising.

Consistent downhill pedaling is necessary to help alleviate lactic acid buildup from long uphill climbs and to relieve overall muscle soreness.

Proper braking is essential to safe bicycling.  Engaging the braking lever at the end exerts the greatest pressure but be careful.  When applied smoothly, the front brake (left lever) allows a quicker stop than the back brake, but if jammed on, the cyclist can be thrown over the handlebars.  An overly strong squeeze of the back brake can cause the bike to skid.

For a quick stop, apply the brakes firmly while sliding your buttocks to the back of the seat.  This helps to stabilize the back of the bicycle and prevent it from rising off the ground.

On long steep descents or during rainy weather, it is safest to pump the brakes intermittently to avoid both skidding and being thrown over the handlebars.

Remember, the whole idea of bicycling is to have a safe and enjoyable ride, while you reap all the health benefits!

Teisha Mahabir - About the Author:

Teisha Mahabir specializes in writing articles about health, diet, longevity and health speialists like Brenda Rusnak. Brenda Rusnak is a health care specialist who writes about healthy-aging and prevention.

For more information about healthy-aging and Brenda Rusnak, check her out on Flickr.



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