Heart health, is good health. And, if you’re at all interested in living a productive and healthy life, it might not be a bad idea to un-closet your bicycle and take it out for a spin. Why? Because, other than being good for your lungs, joints, muscles, and veins, research suggests using a bicycle for moderate, and consistent exercise also helps lower blood pressure. And, that’s most certainly good for your heart. So, if you’re among the roughly 50 million Americans currently dealing with high blood pressure – or, would like to avoid being part of that statistic – we’ll fill you in on what the research suggests, and how you can safely resurrect this old transportation standby!
What the research says
Essentially, the research says what you know already – movement is the key to living a healthy life, and the physics truism about a body in motion tending to stay in motion is one to internalize. Specifically, though, in a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests that “short burst” activity of about a half hour correlated to a 31% less chance of developing high blood pressure in study participants (1500 men and women between the ages of 37-55) over a five year span. Sounds like a pretty good reason to start pedaling. Cycling is also believed to help lower blood pressure if you’re already in the high blood pressure camp.
How to get started again
Always consult with your physician before altering your routine and starting any type of exercise program – particularly if you already have high blood pressure. Once you’re doctor says you’re okay, though, getting started is simple. We’ll assume you have bicycle already, but how is it doing? Does it need a tune-up? Do you need a refresher course on how to handle the bike, avoid obstacles, and position yourself correctly on the bicycle? How about on-the-fly repair? You may be surprised at how much you’ll learn by wandering over to bicycling.com and checking out their tremendous “Ultimate Guide to Bicycling.”
Really excited about riding, how about training for a Century Ride?
A “Century” in the cycling world is a 100-mile ride. Yes, that’s a lot of miles! But, they tend to take place over a weekend, and involve a lot of stops. It’s more like a “tour” than anything else. Of course, you can go all-out-racer if you’d like, but they’re more for the fun of it, than the competition. There’s likely a Century ride near where you live – here’s a great place to start! If you’re already somewhat fit, Shape Magazine believes they can get you ready for a century ride in just eight weeks, and they’ve got a plan you can follow to boot.
It’s worth noting there is such a thing as too much exercise, and excessive cycling is nothing to laugh about. That’s why it’s important to consult with a physician before riding one no matter your perceived level of fitness.
Cycling can be a fun and beneficial exercise for the whole family, as long as you do it within the limits of your current and planned fitness levels. Be safe out there, and have fun!