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Ride Your Way to Health

By Dr. Victor Gong, Medical Director of 75th St. & 126th St. Medical, Ocean Pines Medical & Doctors Weight Control & Wellness centers, Ocean City, MD.

Bicycle riding is becoming more and more popular as a form of exercise. Many large cities have put in scenic bicycle paths, and suburban and rural areas offer fun areas to ride through. Some people even use a bicycle to go to and from work.

Bicycling offers all the aerobic advantages of running, with none of the disadvantages of impact forces on your joints. If you are thinking about riding, here are some pointers:

  • Keep your bike tires properly inflated. Too little air makes the bike hard to pedal; too much air may cause a dangerous blowout.
  • Always wear a bike helmet when riding. A helmet reduces the risk of head injury if you fall.
  • If you ride with a friend, ride single-file instead of side-by-side, so that cars can pass you more easily.
  • Keep a close eye on the road in front of you. An open manhole, small animal, or piece of road debris can cause you to topple.
  • Carry a container of water with you. Bicycle riding, especially in warm or humid weather, can dehydrate you.
  • Buy a gel-filled saddle pad so your ride is more comfortable.

Getting Started on a Cycling Program

Before beginning a bicycling program, here are some safety tips to consider:

  • If you need to buy a bicycle, ride several different kinds at the bike shop before you decide on one. Read consumer magazines to learn about what bicycle might be best for you.
  • Make sure your bicycle is adjusted to fit you for a comfortable ride. While you are sitting on the seat, with your foot on the lowest pedal, your knee should be bent slightly.
  • The handle bars should be positioned so that you can steer easily and operate the brakes.
  • Get accustomed to your bicycle on short trips around your neighborhood. Learn how to handle your bike – practice quick stops and avoidance maneuvers.
  • Start your routine withy slow warm-up exercises. At first, ride three or four short trips a week. Gradually, lengthen the distance you ride, and the pace at which you pedal. (The goal is to raise your heart rate during your ride.) After each ride, stretch your muscles again.
  • And for the die hard bikers, becareful of the automobiles & dogs.

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