Why not come along for the ride?
It’s National Bike Week, until June 17. With the Tour de Yorkshire having just finished and the Tour de France happening next month, cycling couldn’t be hotter right now, says fitness expert RUTH LYNCH
FANS of two-wheeled transport include Pippa Middleton, who is often snapped around London on her trusty bike with a basket; Hugh Bonneville, who is a huge fan of his fold-up bike and Zoe Ball, who has just cycled over 350 miles to raise awareness of mental health for Sport Relief.
Celebrities are just like us! So, if they’re all getting in the saddle, why don’t you?
TWO WHEELS ARE BETTER THAN FOUR
STUDIES show that two wheels are always better than four when it comes to commuting. A large-scale 2017 British study found that commuting by bicycle resulted in a 41% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, cancer and any other factor (including injury) than commuting by car or public transport.
Many people don’t cycle as they’re afraid of the roads but the stats just don’t add up. Roughly 100 cyclists die on the road each year, compared to 785 car passengers.
Contrast that to the 37,000 premature deaths caused by physical activity in the UK a year and then cycling starts to make a lot of sense.
Even just swapping one or two journeys a week will make all the difference to your family’s health.
WE all have busy mornings, so sometimes the thought of getting on the bike and fighting through traffic isn’t what we want first thing – especially with small kids and the British weather.
Luckily the UK has some amazing cycling routes. These aren’t just wild country rides, but gentle town and countryside routes that are suitable for all levels of rider. Many parks and woods also have paths that are perfect for riding on too.
You can find details of your local cycling routes online.
MAKE SOME TIME
WHEN life is full of family, work and everything else, it can be easy to overlook exercise. However, the Government recommends that adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week – kids need to do a whole hour a day. Good news! Cycling is classed as moderate exercise!
Why not book in a family ride once a week? This doesn’t have to be a long slog, it could just be round the local park or to somewhere you all enjoy going. When you book the time in formally you’re more likely to stick to your plans.
By exercising as a family you’re setting good exercise examples and encouraging your kids to keep healthy as they grow up.
NOT sure whether to sit on a bike or run a mile from one? Don’t worry, if you’ve never ridden before (or if it’s been so long you can’t remember), there are plenty of learn to ride courses across the country – many are put on by local charities, councils and community groups.
Run by a qualified instructor the classes will give you the confidence to take the first step into cycling. For all ages – from kids to grandparents – they are usually held in easily accessible places like parks and schools. Most even provide the bikes and helmets.
If you already know how to ride but would like to join up with others to socialise or build up your confidence, search online for local cycling groups.
Many have beginners, kids and ladies only rides too.
DON’T have a bike? Don’t like the British weather? Not sure about the roads? Don’t worry! You don’t have to go outdoors to cycle.
Your local gym will have static indoor bikes as part of its set up, meaning you can ride indoors whatever the weather. Some gyms have bikes for people with back problems and mobility issues too, making cycling accessible to all.
If you want something that pushes you a little more, why not join a spin class? Spin is a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) that uses a static bike with a weighted wheel and is suitable for all fitness levels. Spin is also low impact, so is a great joint-friendly exercise.
During spin class you’ll do short, sharp bursts of intense cycling with slower ‘active recovery’ periods to catch your breath. Spin is a great way to burn quite a few calories in short amount of time – spin classes are about 30-45 minutes long.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
THERE are bikes out there for everyone – from a toddler’s first balance bike, to tag along attachments, to bicycles made for two!
When you start cycling, why not hire a bike from your local bike shop to work out if it’s for you? This is a perfect way to check if you like the activity, before spending money on your own bike (you can also hire helmets).
If you are going to splash some cash, make sure you get the right bikes for you and your family – your local shop will help find the right type, size and models for your budget.
They can also show you how to maintain your bike to keep it in good working order – so there’s no excuse for not getting out and about!
Ruth Lynch is Head of Health, Fitness & Communities at lifeleisure.net
Many local beauty spots have cycle trails for every ability
Bad weather is no excuse as most gyms will have static bikes or spin classes to keep you in trim British Heart Foundation ambassador Pippa Middleton completes the 40th London to Brighton Bike Ride