You love bicycling – outdoors when the weather is good, on a stationary bike indoors when it is not. Can you be confident that cycling, by itself, is enough to keep yourself fit for decades to come? It would be great if the single thing we loved to do most was all we needed to stay healthy. Alas, that is not the case – although your commitment to biking does go a long way in contributing to your overall health. Cycling gives you a terrific cardiovascular workout. In other words, it makes your heart, circulatory system and lungs work hard, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease, improve heart function and keep cholesterol and triglycerides at lower levels. In addition, biking improves muscle mass in your lower extremities, giving your body a leg up on overall fitness. However, to attain the complete fitness routine, there are gaps you need to fill. First of all, cycling does not heavily involve your arms. To make up for that deficiency, consider working out on a rowing machine or elliptical trainer during inclement weather to exercise your upper body.
Varying the routine helps prevent boredom. Second, you should add strength training to your regimen. Strength training is not just about bulking up your biceps or quads – and women will not necessarily develop bulk at all. But it does add lean muscle mass, which otherwise diminishes with age. When you strengthen your muscles, you also
- strengthen your bones
- ward off osteoporosis (cardiovascular exercise does offer a bit of this benefit as well)
- enhance your balance
- increase your stamina
- boost your mind’s ability to focus
For maximum benefit, you should perform 20 to 60 minutes of uninterrupted cardiovascular exercise three to five days a week, and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on the “off” days. Your physical therapist at The Jackson Clinics will be happy to help you develop a plan you enjoy and can stick to, thereby attaining the ultimate workout.