Monday 23 April 2018

Karl Henry: 'Adapt your exercise to two wheels - it's easy on the joints, good for the lungs and it's even tax-efficient'

Incorporate regular exercise by cycling to work - it's time to saddle up and get on your bike so you keep up the good work of the last eight weeks

Karl Henry - Cycling is fantastic for your body
Karl Henry - Cycling is fantastic for your body

Congratulations to everyone who completed our eight-week 'Spring into Spring' challenge - now the challenge is to keep that progress going.

One of the simplest ways to do that is to incorporate regular exercise by making some small changes to your daily routine. Once movement becomes part of your lifestyle, it will be much easier to maintain the momentum you have built up since the New Year.

In today's column, I want to take a closer look at cycling, the sport that the whole country seems to have grown passionate about - for leisure, but most notably for commuting.

Cycling is fantastic for your body. It's easy on the joints, and has great benefits for your lungs and your muscles. Plus, with the bike-to-work scheme, cycling is even tax-efficient too.

While it can be intimidating to see co-workers strolling into the office with their cycling gear, it's an easy habit to pick up.

If you haven't adapted to two wheels yet, here's what you need to get started.

Your bike: There are three options here.

A racer will be the fastest choice but not always the most comfortable.

A mountain bike will be heavier with wider tyres and very stable on the road.

A hybrid is a mixture between the two and the bike I generally recommend for those starting out.

Your gear: You can spend lots of money on gear but there are actually just a few essential components that you need:

A high-vis rainproof jacket that will keep you dry, as well as seen in dimly lit areas.

Lights at the front and back are crucial.

The most important of all is a helmet. In my opinion it should be compulsory to wear a helmet, it can save your life.

Get fitted: When you are buying your bike, ensure that you get fitted for it. This will save you a lot of pain in the long run.

The assistant in the shop will be able to adjust the saddle, handlebars and the stem to suit your body type so that you are as comfortable as possible.

If you haven't got a bike fit done then here is the most important thing to know: You need to adjust your saddle to ensure that neither of your legs are ever fully extended when the pedal is at its lowest point. This will ensure that your hips aren't rocking when you're cycling.

Follow the rules of the road: Don't break lights, don't cycle the wrong way up a street and don't cycle on a footpath.

Cars and bikes have to exist together and by both following the rules of the road we might just get there.

Fitness tip of the week:

Remember what you eat after your session is a crucial component of recovery.

Ideally aim to eat in the first 20 minutes after your session with a mixture of protein and carbs. Flavoured milk is a convenient solution if you are travelling or commuting home.

A meal of meat or fish and vegetables is also a great way to recover.

Irish Independent

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