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Talking Fitness A lot of people start cycling for different reasons. There are many health benefits associated with cycling. Let’s look at a few of the major benefits: Cycling is one of the easiest ways to exercise Cycling … For The Health Of It You can ride a bicycle almost anywhere, at any time of the year, and without spending a fortune. Many people are put off doing certain sports because of the high level of skill that seems to be required, or perhaps because they can’t commit to a team sport due to time pressures. Most of us know how to cycle and once you have learned you don’t forget. All you need is a bike, half an hour here or there when it suits, and a bit of confidence. Cycling builds strength and muscle tone Contrary to normal perceptions, cycling is not a fitness activity that solely involves the legs. Cycling builds strength in a holistic manner since every single part of the body is involved in cycling. Cycling increases muscle tone Cycling improves general muscle function gradually, with little risk of over exercise or strain. Regular cycling strengthens leg muscles and is great for the mobility of hip and knee joints. You will gradually begin to see an improvement in the muscle tone of your legs, thighs, rear end and hips. Cycling improves cardio-vascular fitness Cycling makes the heart pound in a steady manner and helps improve cardio-vascular fitness. Studies have shown that cycling to work will increase cardiovascular fitness by 3–7%. Cycling uses the largest muscle groups, the legs — raising the heart rate to help build stamina and fitness. Cycling eats up calories Cycling is a good way to lose those unwanted pounds. Steady cycling burns approximately 300 calories per hour. Since it helps build muscle, cycling will also boost your metabolic rate long after you’ve finished your ride. Cycling improves heart health According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. A major study of 10,000 civil servants suggested that those who cycled 20 miles over the period of a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as their non- cycling colleagues.   Cycling improves coordination Cycling is an activity that involves the whole body. Therefore, arm-to-leg, feet-to-hands and body-to-eye coordination are improved. Cycling reduces stress Any regular exercise can reduce stress and depression and improve well being and self esteem. Cycling outdoors is also a good way to be one with nature and to feel the breath of the earth. It takes one’s mind out of everyday-life stress and rejuvenates the soul. When incorporating cycling into an overall fitness program, there are many aspects to consider. Here are some important things to remember: Consult your doctor Stephanie Vegh has a degree in Exercise Physiology from Chico State and has worked in the fit- ness industry for over 12 years. She is the Health & Wellness Director & Fitness Instructor at the Centennial Recreation Center (CRC) in Morgan Hill. She lives in Gilroy with her husband Frank, seven-year-old twin daughters, Isabella and Addison, and four-year-old daughter, Alexis. Most people can do cycling. However, it is still best to consult your doctor when thinking about incorporating a cycling activity into an overall fitness program. They will advise you regarding your limits and capacities and what you should avoid doing. Cycling is a base training activity Let’s say that the doctor says that there is noth- ing wrong with you engaging in cycling as a part of your overall fitness program. What do you do next? Remember that cycling should be considered as a base training activity. G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E MAY / JUNE 2015 Base training activities are those, which provide endurance and aerobic training at the same time. Re-align your fitness program such that biking becomes the starting activity for the week. Other activities such as circuit training should be done so as to complement the benefits of cycling. Start slowly and then increase your cycling Beginners should employ a program wherein cycling is done three times a week. Doing it two times a week is also fine, but this depends on the capabilities of the person undergoing the training. Continued on page 79 61