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Is cycling really a good way to get fit It's the only exercise I'm likely to keep up

01:00 Mon 08th Apr 2002 |

asks jayne b-t:
A.
Cycling is a great way to keep fit, and it's a pity that most of the cycles in this country aren't used very much. There's an estimated 27 million bikes in sheds across the UK - but we don't see many of them on the roads. About 70% of all journeys made by car are less than five miles and a bike ride would do just as well.


Q. What are the health benefits
A.
Any kind of regular exercise is good for your heart. A major study of more than 10,000 people found that those who cycled at least 20 miles a week were half as likely to have heart problems as those who didn't.
Cycling burns up 300 calories an hour, and is a good way to maintain your weight.


Regular exercise is a good way to keep your spirits up, and reduces the chances of being depressed, and relieves stress and anxiety.


Exercise and fresh air boost your circulation and give your skin a healthy glow. (NB, always wear a sun protection cream with at least SPF 15. Buy one which says 'broad spectrum' - that means it will protect your skin against both UVA and UVB rays, which age your skin and cause skin cancer. Don't forget to cover your hands and knees, too, which are particularly vulnerable when cycling.)


Also, cycling is a good way for busy people to fit exercise into their day.


Q. Should I wear a helmet
A.
Yes, but ensure it's well fitted. Research shows that in 70% of cycle accidents, cyclists hit the road head first, and that most impact sites would have been protected by cycle helmets.


Q. Is cycling a particularly risky exercise
A.
It needn't be if you are properly prepared and your bicycle is roadworthy. There's information about the risks of cycling at The Cycling Website.


Q. What about pollution
A.
Those with asthma or breathing problems should take advice before cycling in cities. While cycling in open spaces is obviously healthier than cycling in traffic, air quality in cars and Tubes, for example, can be pretty poor.


For other info on cycling, try the British Cycling Federation (the Governing body of cycle sport in the UK) website.


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By Sheena Miller


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