It is that time of year again. The time when you get your bike out of the shed and take it for a spin. If you are like some of us, that first ride might be a bit rougher than your last one, but don’t worry, with some tweaks to your daily routine you will be back to biking and healthier in no time!
Below are our 10 top tips to get healthy and improve your fitness by bike!
1. Slash your portion
It is easy to overeat when it is colder out and all you want is some warm comfort food. However, the truth is portions sizes are inflated all over the place. The image to the right from the CDC shows just how much portions have grown since the 1950s. Working on slashing your portions will really help you lose weight, feel less sluggish, and get you back moving on the bike and in life like a pro![i]
2. Stay away from processed foods
You may have heard people say that you should only eat from the perimeter of the grocery store. Well, for the most part they are right (unless of course your grocery store has frozen pizzas and ice cream on the perimeter 😉 ) Processed food has a high level of sodium, fat, and/or sugar added to the food to make the food last longer and taste better. This also means that processed foods contain more calories than food that is unprocessed. Some studies have even shown direct links to chronic diseases from overconsumption of processed foods.
So what are processed foods? Some examples of popular processed foods include, breakfast cereals, chips, microwavable meals, sodas, white bread, and much, much, more!
3. Eat more fruits and veggies
We know you have been hearing this your entire life, but the fact still rings true; eating more fruits and vegetables will help you get on the fast track to health. According to the USDA not only can vegetables lower your daily calories when you replace other high calorie or processed foods with them, but it can also give you the necessary vitamins and minerals to keep your skin healthy, help your cuts and wounds heal faster, and your teeth and gums healthy. To take it one step further, a diet rich in vegetables and fruits results in people who are likely to have reduced risk of some chronic diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and some cancers![ii]
4. Stay hydrated
Keeping your body hydrated is like lubricating your bike. Everything runs better! Water not only aids in lubricating your joints it also helps your face, body, and hair look younger. Water helps flush out toxins, carries nutrition to your cells, and makes sure the body functions efficiently. Drinking enough water can reduce your fatigue level and help you move better as well.
5. Get more sleep
Getting those eight hours of z’s is no joke! Sleep, like eating, or breathing, is essential to any person’s healthy mind, body, and well-being. Sleep allows the body to process the day, fight off infections, perform well in daily tasks, and sleep keeps your metabolism up![iii]
6. Move More
Even if you haven’t joined the fitness tracker movement, the idea behind it is clear. Moving more is a good and healthy thing! Getting up from your desk and moving intermediately throughout your day has been shown time and time again to be a healthy thing for both people who engage in rigorous exercise and people who do not. To combat this simply get up, move, stretch, take a short walk to the coffee machine, or whatever you have to do to motivate yourself to take a break. If it helps, you can even set a timer to remind you to stand up every half an hour or so.
Also, even if you don’t have a fitness tracker, take a page out of their book and remember that your goal should be to at the very least, walk toward fitness!
A lot of people like to skim on stretching, but the benefits of a more flexible body can truly improve your athletic performance, decrease your risk of injury, and can even reduce your level of stress. One great way to maximize a full body stretch is to take a yoga class. Along with increased flexibility, yoga will also help you to build core strength. Taking a few minutes to do some basic stretches or practicing yoga will help you become a more flexible relaxed person both on and off the bike.
8. Reduce stress
Stress is a normal part of life, but too much stress can cause serious health effects. According to webmd, stress can play a part in causing headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, anxiety, and more. 43% of adults suffer health effects from stress, but here are ways to combat the level of stress in your life in order to reduce the potential short and long term damages that too much stress can cause. Writing, yoga, meditation, and exercise are just a few ways that some people relax, but if there is something else that works for you, make time for it![v]
9. Add variety to your workouts
Not only can workouts get boring and stale they can also begin to become less effective as your body begins to get accustomed to the activity. In order to get the most from your workouts be sure to switch it up regularly. A great way to get out of a routine is by shaking it up with new things, or going to new classes. Your body will be force to adapt to new situations and will become stronger because of it.
10. Get out and ride
The best way to become a stronger rider is to get out there and begin to ride. While biking is incredibly enjoyable it is also a great cardiovascular and muscular exercise that will help improve your health and quality of life, so get out there and start biking today!
Photo 1 and 4 by Daniel Palma
[i] The New (Ab)Normal: Portion Sizes Today vs. In The 1950s (INFOGRAPHIC) (The Huffington Post)
By: Klein, Sarah.
[ii] USDA MyPlate Vegetable Group — Nutrients and health benefits (USDA MyPlate Vegetable Group — Nutrients and health benefits)
[iii] Sleep Health (Sleep Health)
[iv] A List of Nonprocessed Foods (LIVESTRONG.COM)
[v] The Effects of Stress on Your Body (WebMD)