National Ride Your Bike To Work Week

I noticed in my local newspaper on last Monday, that this week is the National Ride Your Bike to Work Week. With the higher price of gas these days, riding your bike is not only a great exercise, but can save you a bit of money. May is also National Bicycling Month.

I am getting more and more excited about riding my bicycle. It is a wonderful form of exercise that is very interesting because you get to experience the great outdoors and have the opportunity to ride with and get to know a group of like-minded bicyclists.

You may be wondering “what does it cost” to get a half-way decent bicycle – one that will serve you for a few years at least. You can spend way over $10,000 for a bicycle, but there are a number of fairly nice bikes in the $250 -400 range. My bicycle is about 25 years old and I paid $850 for it when it was new. It is still a very nice bicycle, a little outdated, but everything works great.

Here is an example of a nice bicycle at a good price from Amazon.

I recently took my bike in to a local shop to have new tires and tubes put on, and to give it a good overall alignment and adjustment. The way it rides now hasn’t felt better in years! If you have a bicycle, take it in and have it looked at. Most small shops are very competent and will let you know what it needs and whether it is a good fit for what you want to do.

Safety is a big issue with bicycling, especially since we many times share the road with vehicles. A good fitting helmet is a necessity. A few companies make great bicycle helmets. My favorite is Giro. They make a wide range of helmets – all colors and all different styles.

I am finding out that if I just have 20 to 30 minutes, I can still get a decent amount of exercise on my bicycle. I have a few 30 minute “courses” around my home area. I like to push fairly hard, it gets my heart going and I am building muscle and cardio endurance. When I have more time, going for about an hour ride is more involved – but still I am up for it.

My goal for this summer and fall is to do at least a 50 mile ride, and possibly a 100 miles. It is also important to have experience riding in a group. Most local bike shops sponsor a few rides each week. Contact one of them and let them know that you are looking to ride with a group and want some coaching and instruction about rules and etiquette. They usually have a “new rider” group that you will feel comfortable in.

If you have thought at all about riding a bicycle, give it some more thought. You may even catch some “bicycle passion” and become a 100 miler a day kind of person. This will take a while, but don’t be too surprised if you end up loving the sport.

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Top 5 Exercise Program Killers

exercise program

Many good-intentioned people don’t ever start an exercise program because of negative misconceptions they have heard from others. But once these errors of understanding are cleared up, there are many opportunities to begin a new, exciting and healthy exercise program. This article will point out and clear up the top 5 reasons why people don’t exercise.

1.  Failure to set meaningful goals. If you start an exercise program without any clear goal in mind, it’s like jumping in your car and driving around in circles. Someone once said it this way: “If you don’t know where you are going – you are already there.”

What a clearly defined goal will do is help keep you focused and assist you in staying motivated. Goals shouldn’t be so hard that you lose interest. Keep them simple and step by step. What I mean by this is have a time frame of maybe 12 weeks. Map out on paper what small increments you want to achieve each week. If it is tied into weight loss, maybe losing 1/2 pound each week would be a great motivator. Have something down on paper that will challenge you each week and allow you to feel like you are progressing.

2. No Pain – No Gain. Don’t just dismiss your pain. It is your own body’s method of alerting you that something might be wrong. Don’t get all worried about a little pain when you start an exercise program. Your muscles will feel sore – that’s normal. Just listen to what your body is telling you. And don’t be so gung-ho and go running 8 or 10 miles, when you haven’t even gotten comfortable with running one mile yet.

Start off slow and add to your difficulty each week. A general rule-of-thumb is to increase your exercise program about 10% per week. Let’s say you are riding a bike 3 miles x 4 times a week. The next week don’t go off and ride a 25 miler. Instead increase your rides to about 3.5 miles x 4 times/week.

By being smart and building your exercise program steadily, over time, you will be amazed at how much you can do, and how great you will feel. And the real benefit of a goal driven exercise program is you will be much more immune to sickness and disease.

3. Sacrificing Quality for Quantity. Let’s say you have been lifting weights for a few weeks. You are now ready to increase the reps of a certain exercise that you like. Here’s something different to try. Instead of struggling to do a few more reps each time, why not decrease the number of reps in a set, and then increase the number of sets.

Here’s another strategy: back off to only about 1/2 of your regular reps and then add a couple more sets. YOu will feel less tired and still get the muscle training and gain that your are working for.

4. Weight Training Makes Women Bulky. Weight conditioning for women does many wonderful things for them. Like it will strengthen and tone her muscles, increase metabolism and also burn fat. This doesn’t really build mass. One viewpoint is that since women don’t produce testosterone the way men do, they can’t produce the muscle mass as men many times do.

5. Over-Emphasizing Your Strengths. Learn to concentrate your exercise program on your whole body – your whole person. If there is a part of your body that is weaker than other parts – concentrate on building strength in the weaker area – at least one day per week. As your whole body gets more and more in balance, you will feel even better.

There are many great books that you can tap into for more information and inspiration. I recently dug out of my bookshelf an old paperback that I hadn’t looked at in years – Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s Aerobics. The information he shares is still very timely – and priceless. I love the stories he shares of how people’s lives were totally turned around – by developing their own exercise program – and then sticking with it.

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Bicycling to Work

Bicycling to work, huh? This summer I pulled out my old bike, and checked it out. It was still in excellent shape and the tires were just a little soft. I bought the bike about 20 years ago, and paid over $800 for it, so it is still a nice road bike – just not up to date! I filled the narrow tires up and checked the seat height.

I work 3.5 miles from home, so riding a bike to work is not that difficult. In fact, the more I got into riding, the more I wanted a “longer” ride to work.  I enjoy riding “too” work more than coming home. It is the added traffic at 5:00 p.m. that makes it more annoying and slower going.

One thing I am getting very excited about is bicycling a LOT more next spring and summer. There are bicycle clubs in most cities, and they sponsor rides almost every weekend.  To ride with them, you will be required to sign a release and you MUST have a helmet. If you join their club, you will only sign a release once a year.

The two biggest concerns I have about cycling at my age is my knees and my back.  These are the two biggest physical concerns for all cyclists. I will go into more detail about how I am trying to keep my back in shape for riding – in another post.

I wouldn’t go out and buy a new bike until you know this is what you really want to do. If you get half-way serious about biking, you should expect to pay around $1000 for a good quality entry – level road bike.

Too bad I live in Michigan and my bicycling is coming to an end because of winter. Now to get more serious about walking and maybe running – again!

Any bicyling wannabees out there, or bicycling nuts?

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