Health Center - Diet and Fitness

A healthy diet and a regular fitness routine are keys to living a long, healthy life. Reduce disease risks and symptoms and increase your quality of life by integrating healthy practices now. Your body will thank you. Unsure where to start? You've come to the right place.

Beat Boredom with Bike Riding

woman on a bicycleAs the new year arrived, Jennifer Batchelor knew what she needed to do: revive her exercise routine.

Boredom had caused her to stop jogging several months before. She wanted to find a physical activity that was easy to start and interesting enough to keep her going.

"I hopped on a bike because I thought it would be less of a challenge," says Jennifer, who is 25. She now gets her fitness dose while biking to and from work on the Miami Beach boardwalk, about two-and-a-half miles each way. She avoids street traffic because "being new to riding my bike, I don't have the coordination that a seasoned rider might have."

Jennifer is enthusiastic about her new activity. "It's great exercise and really relaxing," she says. Since beginning to bike, she has cut way back on the caffeinated coffee she used to drink at her desk to get the workday started. "I arrive at work and I'm amped already," she says. "Getting a little adrenaline going has curbed my need for coffee."

For Linda Fisher-Helton, starting to ride a bike last fall was a way to add fun to exercise. "Riding has so much more variety. It allows me to go more places," says the 53-year-old from Camarillo, California. She bikes after work and on weekends, taking short trips to local stores or the library.

Linda sees bike riding as a way to "offset some of the sedentary lifestyle I've developed" and fight creeping midlife weight gain. But what keeps her climbing back into the saddle are the emotional rewards.

Riding a bike "makes me feel like a kid, makes me laugh and makes me smile," Linda says. "Going downhill, I lift my feet up. It just lightens my life. I never worry about how far or how much I've done."

The right activity for almost everyone

Women often choose walking when they start a beginner exercise plan. That’s good, but walking also can get dull, or be hard on bones, joints and backs. Many women don't realize that bike riding is an often better beginner exercise, one that provides benefits whether you ride indoors on a stationary bike or outside.

"Biking is generally what we put people on before they progress to other activities," says Stacy J. Ingraham, PhD, an exercise physiologist and kinesiology professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Because riding a bike is a non-weight-bearing activity, there's little to no stress on joints and muscles. That helps avoid the overuse injuries that are common when beginners, especially those carrying extra weight, start fitness programs and do too much, Dr. Ingraham says. "It's probably the most self-sufficient beginner activity that anybody can do without screwing up,”" she adds. "It's the first place I put sedentary people."