Are you looking for a low-impact cardiovascular exercise that people of all ages can enjoy? Consider cycling! Cycling does not put a lot of load on your joints or involve any cutting or pivoting such as in tennis. You also have options — you can ride outside and enjoy nature or use a stationary bike in the convenience of your own home.
Cycling is completely modifiable — you can choose to ride an easy, short path to loosen up, a challenging uphill course, or anything in between!
Since it is a cardiovascular activity, you may even lose weight as you burn calories depending on how intense and long you ride. You will strengthen your lower extremity muscles — many people start rehabilitation on a stationary bike after joint replacement. There are also mental benefits which can include improved mood and lowered risk of depression as you release endorphins. If you bike outside, you can enjoy the world around you (much more so then if you are running).
I’ve been riding for over 30 years. I ride because it’s a low-impact exercise I can easily do every day if I want. I have a bike at home which I find to be an efficient exercise to keep my heart healthy. Whenever I can, I do like to get outside to see some beautiful paths outside of Manhattan.
Outside of my time cycling, I am the physiatrist-in-chief at HSS and I often see cyclists in my office. Like many other cardiovascular sports, overuse injuries can occur in cyclists, but care must be taken to avoid often more serious traumatic injuries. When riding outside, always remember to wear a helmet, have working mirrors and reflectors, and dress in bright colors to be as visible as possible to those with whom you are sharing the road.
If you are a seasonal rider and only dust off your bike in warm summer months, it’s a good idea to use a stationary bike 3-4 weeks prior to get your body used to being in the sitting position again. The more you ride, the more you build up the tolerance and strength in your muscles. Strengthening your core can also give you stability so that you can most efficiently use your legs while riding. If you have musculoskeletal injuries and you want to get on a bike, always talk to your doctor first to address those conditions before.
Last year, I was pleased to be a part of the inaugural BIKE HSS event where we enjoyed a beautiful ride through Manhattan, Long Island and Connecticut. Personally, it was a great way for me to explore the surrounding areas of the city. I’m looking forward to this year’s event taking place on Saturday, September 28 around Westchester County. To learn more or join us, visit BikeHSS.org!