Health On Wheels: Cycling for Exercise

Learn the health benefits of cycling safely.

On a nice, sunny day, nothing is better than pulling out the bike, dusting off your helmet and hitting the road or trail for a bike ride. It’s great exercise, it’s low impact, and it’s fun to explore parks and neighborhoods from the comfort of two wheels. And, with the right precautions, it can be just as safe as a walk or a jog.

Getting a bike that’s the right size is the first step. This will help keep you in control of your vehicle while you’re riding. Step over the cross bar; you should have an inch or two of room between the top bar and your pants. This will give you space to step off the pedals if you need to, while allowing for the proper extension of your legs as you ride. A well-fitting helmet is always a crucial piece of gear. Never ride without one. For added safety, a flashing light can be attached to the seat and a light or reflector on the front can make it easier to see for other traffic.

When you’re on the road, make sure you’re in high-visibility clothes. This can just be bright colors, or clothing with reflectors built in. It’s also important to follow all traffic rules. This includes riding the same way as traffic (not against the flow), and obeying the stoplights, stop signs and lane markings. And even when traffic is light, keep your eyes peeled for cars reversing out of driveways and people swinging open the doors of their parked cars.

Cyclists tend to focus on automobile traffic as the largest concern, but it’s important not to forget the pedestrians you’ll come across when biking through the park or other public spaces. Just remember, your bike is pretty stealthy, so don’t expect people to hear you coming. You can fit your bike with a bell or a horn, but it’s often just as easy to alert pedestrians with your voice.

Whether your bike is how you commute, how you get your exercise, or how you relax and have fun, these precautions can make sure you get where you’re going in one piece. Be aware, obey the traffic laws, and, of course, always wear a helmet.

Man clipping on his bike helmet in the park.

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