As the summer months approach, it’s always more appealing to grab your bicycle and go cycling outdoors. As it’s National Bike Month, we wanted to gather up our top tips around the benefits of biking and how to protect your joints whilst doing so.
Pros of Cycling
Cycling is a fun exercise that you can do alongside others to keep you motivated and encourage you to get moving. Cycling holds plenty of benefits on our body, including our joints. Some of these benefits include:
- Joints – Unlike walking, which can put added pressure on your joints, cycling requires sitting down ensuring that your weight is put on the ischial tuberosities bones in the pelvis, instead of your joints.
- Aerobic workout – The repetitive movement on your legs from cycling provides an overall aerobic workout which is good for your heart, brain and blood vessels. Aerobic exercise also triggers the release of ‘feel-good’ endorphins, which helps you feel young at heart1.
Muscle building – When pedalling during cycling, you use and work a variety of muscles in the body which builds them up to be stronger. These include your gluteus muscles in your buttocks, quadriceps in your thighs and the soleus muscles in your calves1.
Increase in fitness levels – Because of all the above points, regular cycling will increase your overall fitness levels. This includes making everyday activities such as balance, walking, standing and stair climbing a lot easier1.
Cons of Cycling
As with any sport, there are some negative factors to take into consideration when it comes to cycling and the impact on our joints. Due to the repetitive movements in cycling, this can sometimes lead to overuse injuries. It’s important to ease yourself into any training or exercise and ensure that you consult a health professional before taking part in any activity to reduce the risk of further injury.
As mentioned above, cycling places a lot less pressure on our joints than other activities such as walking. However, cycling does consist of a lot of knee movement, and too much of this can lead to unevenness in the muscles, resulting in knee discomfort.
Finally, both on and off-road cycling require relatively nice weather to avoid any additional pressure on your joints such as biking in the rain or on mud. Due to this, sometimes you can be limited as to when you can go outside cycling in the colder months.
How to Overcome Cycling Challenges
There are several things you can do when it comes to supporting your joints while cycling. You should always speak to your Doctor before starting any new exercise regime. Some of these exercises include:
- Joint health supplements – Joint health supplements are another way to support your joints so that you can enjoy prolonged period of times outdoors when cycling. Move Free Ultra® Omega Softgels are joint health supplements with Omega-3 Krill Oil & Hyaluronic Acid to promote your joint comfort as well as supporting your joint health*. These supplements also come in the form of small, easy to swallow soft gels.
- Exercise bike workout – When the colder months hit, you can train indoors using an exercise bike. Whilst this may not be as challenging as cycling outdoors, it is a great way to be able to train and maintain your fitness levels when the poor weather strikes. An exercise bike is also a great way to start easing yourself into this kind of exercise if you are a beginner, before taking it outside onto harder surfaces.
- Posture – Ensuring you have the correct posture when cycling can help reduce the risk of any cycling-related injuries and joint discomfort. This includes keeping your back straight to avoid any back discomfort, having a good grip on the handlebars with a straight wrist to help reduce any strained wrist discomfort, and to slowly work up your strength when peddling to minimise any strain on the knees.
In conclusion, there are a variety of exercises that can be carried out to help ease joint discomfort and improve overall health. Cycling is a great example of this, as it is a beneficial low impact exercise regime that doesn’t put too much strain on your joints when carried out effectively – and gets your heart rate going at the same time.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out your bicycle and get involved with this year’s National Bike Month!
 Harvard Health Publishing, The top 5 benefits of cycling, Aug 2016 https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-top-5-benefits-of-cycling
 Better Health, Cycling, Preventing Injury, Undated https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/cycling-preventing-injury