STAMFORD, Conn. - About 12 years ago, a friend of mine suggested that we start riding bicycles for exercise. As an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery, I was receptive to the idea of maintaining my health, though a bit wary of the possibility of injury from city cycling. Little did I know that this was the start of a major transformation in my life.
I was soon hooked on cycling and its low-impact exercise. Its health benefits include cardiac conditioning, improved pulmonary function, muscular development, and reduction in body fat, cholesterol and blood pressure. The benefits extend well beyond physiology. One can ride in a fast- paced group or leisurely ‘cruise’ through a quiet community on the weekend. As for the competitive nature of the sport, you can compete against your friends or attempt to beat your best time from seasons past.
As it turned out, a number of the physicians from HSS meet daily for a morning ride in Central Park. This daily ritual begins shortly before 6a.m. when we meet at the hospital and ride crosstown to the park. Keeping in mind to share the road with everything from horses to joggers, you can enjoy one of the most beautiful urban cycling opportunities in the world.
As for the HSS Cycling Team, three or four loops later (at a 22-mph average), we head back to the hospital, clean up and end up in offices or operating rooms no later than 8 a.m. The results have been substantial. We often conclude our cycling season by taking a group trip to the mountains of France where we climb some of the famed peaks of the Tour d’ France.
The metamorphosis into a thick-legged, thin torso, Lycra-clad surgeon with colleagues who have become my closest friends has been the reward for my cycling regimen. So, if you’re interested in great, low-impact exercise with like-minded people to help kick start your day, start pushing those pedals. I hope to see you in the park!
Dr. David S. Levine is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating fractures, dislocations, and other traumatic injuries of the foot and ankle. He practices at both the HSS Outpatient Center in Stamford and the hospital’s main campus in New York.