Cycle for better health and fitness
Cycling is low impact and inexpensive and can help improve health, while controlling weight. Biking burns approximately 600 calories per hour and lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. In addition, cycling promotes psychological well-being. Several studies have suggested that cycling leads to reduced stress, improved mental function and a positive attitude.
Members from United States’ professional cycling team Optum Pro Cycling, presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies, have provided fitness and nutrition tips:
– Ensure that bikes fit. “Finding the right bike fit is important for a comfortable ride,” said Rachel Heal, women’s performance director and a former Olympian. An expert can help new cyclists find equipment that suits their bodies and riding styles.
– Do not rush. Bikers should recognize their limitations. If a cyclist cannot keep a smooth pedal stroke or cannot talk or take a full breath, he or she should take a break or slow down.
– Cross-train for strength. Men’s Performance Manager and three-time Olympic athlete Eric Wohlberg suggested adding lower body exercises such as single leg squats, lunges, jumping rope and running, to build strength and power for cycling.
– Eat for optimal energy. Professional cyclist Jade Wilcoxson was diagnosed as pre-diabetic five years ago. She took up cycling and recently signed with Optum Pro Cycling’s newly-formed professional women’s team. Wilcoxson recommended a diet high in protein, fruits and vegetables and suggested staying away from processed foods, using the rule of “seven ingredients or fewer” when planning meals.
– Prepare nutritionally for a long ride. On long rides lasting more than two hours, athletes’ bodies will need to ingest 250 – 300 calories every 45 minutes – 1 hour. Utilize sports gels or small snacks that incorporate lean protein and carbohydrates.
– Recover effectively after a ride. Take in calories immediately after a long ride to help the body recover. Wohlberg recommended chocolate milk to incorporate calories, sugar and protein. After cooling down, eat a meal of lean protein and carbohydrates and water, to re-hydrate.
– Enjoy it. “You control how hard or easy your workout is,” said Wilcoxson. Do not push yourself harder than your body can go.
For more information about cycling and to follow the cycling team, visit www.humanpoweredhealth.com.