What Makes Cycling So Popular?

Cycling today stands equal to popular exercises such as jogging and weight lifting. Not only does it help improve a person’s respiratory and circulatory systems, but it also helps decrease the fat deposits in the body through sweating and exerting physical effort. Also, it also has the nice bonus of providing the person who engages in it to see sights and travel more than they could do when they just jog or walk. In fact, cycling can even lead to long trips towards great destinations with friends. These benefits that this most wondrous of exercises has provided us has made cycling as one of today’s best forms of exercise.

a24 2

Cycling today, as a form of exercise, has a massive appeal to people of all ages, from small toddlers to old pensioners. Aside from the main reasons that have been mentioned, other major reasons have led to the determination of the general idea of cycling as one of today’s best forms of exercise for people both young and old. If cycling is regularly done, it can help a person significantly improve even his own mental capabilities and overall emotional stability by removing stress. Also, cycling is one of the easiest exercise routines that can be fitted into one’s daily routine, since it can also be a form of transportation. Not only does it save you from travelling costs, but it also is helpful in keeping the environment healthy.

As a low-impact exercise, cycling is kind to one’s joints unlike running or different forms of aerobic activities. However, even if its impact is considered as low, it still has great health benefits for the body. For instance, for a person who weighs eighty kilograms, more than six hundred and fifty calories will be burned after cycling for about an hour. Also, it will also help tone one’s bottom and legs. Cycling up hills or off the road will also help you work out your upper body strength.

If you wish to significantly improve your fitness in regards to your cardiovascular capacity, it is suggested by medical professionals that you ride your bike for at least one hundred and fifty minutes every week. For instance, you can use a bicycle to get to work for a few days every week, or do shorter rides during the week and place longer rides for the weekend.

Being that people generally accept the idea of cycling as one of today’s best forms of exercise, people will probably use their bicycles more, that is why it is important to keep safe. Although cycling is mostly safe, this kind of exercise can be dangerous in some situations. To keep safe, before you make turns, stop, or overtake, ensure that you look at you. You should also obey all road signs and traffic lights, and do not use the pavement unless it is specifically said that it is okay for you to do so. Also, try to avoid cycling too close to other people.

How Does Cycling Benefit a Person’s Health?

One of the best outdoor activities that bring healthy benefits is cycling. It can energize your body from head to toe. A slow, leisurely ride of 10mph can burn 281 calories. It is ideal if you want a relaxing activity to supplement an active lifestyle. If you want to burn more calories, you can always challenge yourself to speed up more than 10mph. Cycling is an active way to pump up your heart without stressing your joints. Cycling gets your legs moving without so much force from the knees unlike running or jogging activities.

How does cycling benefit a person’s health?

Cycling is a form of aerobic which activates lungs, heart and blood vessels that in turn make you breathe deeper and increase body temperature. It helps your body metabolism to burn stored fats and calories.

A24 1

Health benefits of cycling include:

•    Cycling builds strength and tones muscles – It improves muscle condition of the body especially the calves, hips, rear end and thighs. Regular cycling benefits the hips and joints smooth mobility even if you are recovering from an injury or suffering from joint conditions.

•    Cycling is good for the heart – Studies show that regular cycling guarantees your risk of getting heart ailments by 50%. 20 miles ride weekly ensures a healthy heart and keep it beating steadily. It uses large muscles in your legs that increase heart rate and promotes stamina.

•    Cycling improves the condition of cardiovascular system – It keeps cardiovascular diseases away like high-blood pressure, stroke and heart attacks. Regular cycling activity reduces the level of blood fats, lowers resting pulse and strengthens the muscles of your heart.

•    Cycling keeps cancer away – It helps reduce the risk of getting cancer especially breast and colon cancer. The reason is that exercise especially cycling keeps your cells active and healthy. Studies show that women who regularly cycle decrease the risk of getting breast cancer by almost 34%. A 30-minute cycling for men also brings immunity to cancer.

•    Cycling controls weight – It raises body’s metabolic rate which burns calories several hours after you stop this activity. If you want to speed up weight loss, you should be burning 2,000 calories per week through exercise and it is easier to attain by cycling. Regular cycling can burn 300 calories per hour. It is easy to increase pedaling time and intensity of the activity to pump up metabolism.

•    Cycling increases brain power – It helps blood and oxygen to flow better to the brain which boosts mind receptors to function better.  Cycling assists the brain to build new cells in the hippocampus region. This part of the brain is responsible for memory enhancement. Keeping this part healthy and productive reduces the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Memory function of the brain starts to deteriorate at the age of 30.

•    Cycling makes you sleep better – It exposes you to daylight which helps in keeping your circadian rhythm in sync and makes your sleeping-waking up cycle normal. This is beneficial for insomniacs. It also eliminates stress hormone known as cortisol which prevents deep sleep essential for cell regeneration.

•    Cycling makes you look younger – It reduces signs of aging because increased circulation of oxygen in the body helps boost collagen production. Optimum circulation brings necessary nutrients to skin cells and flushes out toxins.

A Guide to the Ultimate All-American Road Trip

Such a huge and diverse land America is, no doubt. If you intend to hit the road and go see the whole of it, then better make sure that it’s not just a spur-of-the-moment decision — do plan ahead. Remember, every major trip starts with a plan. Here are six tips to guide you when planning a trip by car across America.

1. Choose who to ride with
Seeing the rest of the United States is no one-day tour. It will certainly take time, and you will be in the confines of a car for the majority of the day, hence picking the right travel companion/s is a sensible decision. There are different kinds of travelers with their own set of preferences so if you can’t imagine being with a certain kind of traveler for a long time, don’t invite them along. More importantly, be absolutely certain that the people you go on a road trip with are those whose company you will enjoy best. Most likely, you will create unforgettable memories during this journey. Whether it be your family or friends, you’d want special people in your life to share these with.

2. Pump up your Vehicle
Planning a trip by car across America means readying your car to be taken on an awful lot of driving for more than a week’s time. Such exhaustive drive will certainly take a toll on your car and could result to it breaking down right in the middle of the road. To avoid such catastrophe, have your vehicle checked thoroughly before your road trip. A critical step not to be missed is an oil change. Additionally, make safety checks on the important parts of your car, such as the brakes, battery, tires and spare tires, belts and hoses, windshield wipers, headlights, brake lights and fluid levels.

3. Take care of the itinerary blues
The outcome of any road trip depends on how epic an itinerary is. With so many sites to see, crossing an entire continent would require at least three weeks, so set aside this time and make sure all your companions are ready and available for the date. The next step is figuring out what places you would like to see and what route you should take to get there. Mix your destinations by exploring both cities and historical sites, as well as breathtaking landscapes. Figure out how to reduce driving time to six hours at most, and maximize sightseeing. Inject some zest in your itinerary by occasionally taking scenic byways and county roads instead of major highways.

Making an itinerary for traveling the entirety of America can be exhausting, and you have to do quite an extensive research beforehand. Get a good overview of the continent first and from then you can focus on specific places you want to include in your voyage. Use Google Maps to find the shortest routes between each landmark you want to see. You can also navigate the United States better by checking online reference sites and reading stories and reviews from people who have already done it.

4 young adults riding in car

4. Know where to hit the sack
Even if you will be taking turns behind the wheel, a whole day of driving and sightseeing is grueling, thus the need for maximum recovery time at night. Target places you will be stopping at each night – whether they are motels, hotels or campgrounds – and make reservations before your actual trip. Also, determine your rest stops and dining options once en route. Trying out the local cuisine is a wonderful way to enjoy truly your travels.

5. Budget, budget, budget
Don’t forego budgeting when planning a trip by car across America. A road trip need not be costly but it is vital that you carry money with you for lodging, food, gas bill, toll fees and admission fees for attractions you want to visit. Estimating the total budget for your travels will minimize the risk of running out of funds later. Also, set aside a small portion of your budget for souvenirs and emergencies. You’ll never know when you’re going to need it.

6. Bring just the right road trip necessities
Stocking up on your essentials during your travel might save you from a whole lot of hassle. For starters, pack clothing that cannot only be mixed and matched easily but can also be quickly washed and dried. You’ll want to bring some detergent as well for your laundry. Of course, do not forget the snacks and water, preferably stuffed in a cooler, as well as toiletries and other travel gears. If needed, stash some cooking tools like matches, charcoal, tongs and spatula. Pack light as much as possible to maximize leg and elbow room in your car, but make sure that you still have everything you need. Lastly, before heading out make sure to bring your favorite tunes, some pillows, and blankets for your comfort while traveling. For extra safety, make it a point to bring an emergency kit containing a first aid kit, flares, jumper cables, flashlight and batteries.

A Low-Risk Ride: Putting the Cuffs on Bicycle Theft

Stealing a bike is an easy crime. Parked and left out in the open, bicycles have few and mostly breakable defenses. Hence, it is quite easy to get away with lifting one. In reality, a seasoned thief would only need a few seconds to nick a bike off the street, especially if it is not attached to anything. It’s as good as one’s valuables left unattended for any crook to take. Bicycle thieves certainly make the most of this Low-risk, high-reward crime, stealing and selling two-wheelers as a whole or having their parts stripped and sold separately.

What makes the problem even worse is the fact that bicycle theft is not a priority crime amongst police departments. Even though almost half the active cyclists today have had their bikes lifted at one time or another, police often fail to pursue suspects and recover their stolen property. As a result, bikers become more discouraged to report similar incidents. Thus, the rise in more theft.

All Locked In
There are plenty of bike owners nowadays, so it is no wonder that bicycle theft is such a prevalent crime. Bike riders, however, need not worry because there are simple measures on how to prevent bicycle theft. For starters, the most important thing is a lock.

Whenever a bike is parked, it should always be secured with a lock. Not just any lock, though; it is best to use high-end U-lock devices. The fact is, the majority of stolen bicycles were either unlocked or had low quality locking devices such as lightweight cables that can easily be cut using shears in a matter of seconds. For the best protection, use a high-quality U-lock that is keyed, and not with a combination. Even though this type of lock is more expensive, it is worth the cost if it means avoiding replacing a stolen bicycle.

how to prevent bicycle theft

Knowing how to lock a bicycle safely is equally important. Simply locking the front wheel to the bike lock may result in having the rest of the bicycle stolen with only a single wheel left behind. As much as possible, lock all free parts of the bicycle and pay particular attention to securing the wheels and frame to the rack. There are a couple of ways to do so: either remove the front wheel and lock it with the rear wheel around the frame, or use a U-lock on the frame and the rear wheel with an adjoining cable or chain to the front wheel. Better yet, use two U-locks to secure both front and rear wheel. For added protection, make sure that the seat is also secured to the bike frame using a chain and a locking screw.

Use That Rack
It is best to use bicycle parking racks rather than attaching it to a tree or a fence. Bike racks are often located in places where there are a lot of people and where theft rarely occurs. If there is no bike rack around, find a pole or a parking meter that are secured firmly to the ground. However, do not lock the bicycle in a sidewalk or a railing where it will mostly likely be a blockage and could be a possible cause of accidents.

Another important rule is never to leave a bicycle locked up outside overnight. If unavoidable, chalk up a few cash and use lockers or rooms available near the location. This could also work for those using expensive bikes in daylight that are always heavily targeted by thieves. As much as possible, use a cheaper bike whenever parking outside.

Registration is Key
Because bikes are easy pickings for crooks, registering it as a preventive measure is crucial to locating it and ultimately getting it back. More importantly, registration is equivalent to proof of ownership. In the event that the bicycle is recovered and the suspect is caught, the thief will be released if the bike is not registered.

Bicycle registration means having all identification details of the bike kept in a file. This can be done effortlessly online. The information necessary includes everything from the purchase receipts to its manufacturer, serial number, model and color, to any other personalization that will distinguish it (e.g., markings, stickers). Another important detail that should be added in the file is a photograph of the bicycle.

Additionally, writing an emergency contact information inside the seat or within the handle bar will also help link back the bike to its owner. Being proactive is ultimately one’s best defense when it comes to a rapidly growing and seemingly undeterred crime such as bike theft. Knowing how to prevent bicycle theft, in other words, is best done by one’s own hand gripping the handlebar.

Reminders when Training for a Long Distance Bike Ride

Perhaps there are very few activities that are more physically demanding than long-distance bike riding. Unlike other sports that are done and over within a few minutes, or an hour or two at most, long-distance bike riding can stretch for hours, even days before you can reach the finish line. In fact, given the gruelling nature of this activity, claiming athletes just see the top prize as the proverbial icing in the cake. For them, what is more important is managing to endure the entire course without giving up.

Training for a Long Distance Bike Ride

It takes just as much effort and strength of will to train even before embarking on this kind of activity. You need to be adequately prepared before plunging yourself head on into this physically and emotionally draining endeavor. If you have plans of training for a long distance bike ride yourself, here are some things to keep in mind:

Begin by beefing up your body’s resistance. Long-distance bike riding, or even just simple biking, demands a lot from your legs and glutes. These are the parts of your body that you should pay sufficient attention to. So for your legs, you can do stretching. You can also perform squats to strengthen your muscles.

Secondly, design a graduated training methodology. This means that you do not start out with a heavy training routine. As with all things, you should start with what you can perfectly do. Over time, increase the difficulty and length of the trail you need to take. The key is that the degree of difficulty of your training should increase over time and not the other way around. This way, you get your body used to progressively difficult training, thereby giving it a chance to adapt.

Part of graduated training is testing out a variety of trails. It’s not all the time that you can ride on an even trail. Challenge yourself by biking on hills or any terrain with an upward slope. This will prove to be useful when you do interval training.

In interval training, you subject yourself to a period of intense physical activity, followed by an even period of rest, and then back again. It’s a way of training your body, particularly your lungs, to get used to intervals of strenuous and restful activity so that your body does not get shocked by a change in the intensity of activities. This is because in long-distance bike riding, it’s not huff-and-puff all the time. There are also parts of the trail that are relatively easy, which you can use to take a rest.

In all your training activities, make sure to listen to your body. Refrain from wearing yourself out if you feel that you have reached your limit. This is exactly the reason during your training; it is important to check your heart rate. Note that your training should be functional and viable, not lethal.

Another great way to prepare yourself is by joining bike race competitions. While these activities are normally lesser in scope as opposed to the usual long-distance bike races, they still make for good practice. By joining, you get yourself accustomed to the pressure and mental stress that usually come with competitive sports. The more you get used to these things, the easier it becomes for you to manage your own training for long-distance bike riding.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, psych yourself up for the battle ahead. This is probably one of the least mentioned reminders when it comes to training for a long-distance bike ride. Most, if not all, focus on the physical aspect of the training. However, as you will later see, it takes more than physical stamina and resistance to withstand the rigors of a long-distance bike ride.

Think about how athletes normally place great emphasis on mental focus to be on top of their game. Without focus and mental sturdiness, you will more than likely give up easily or not have the strength of will to carry on even in the face of challenges. When your mind wills it, it is going to happen. Conversely, if your mind says it can’t be done, then you’re just essentially resigning yourself to the probability of failing.

How do you then keep your mental focus in check? There are a couple of ways on how you can go about this. One of these is by joining organizations or groups of long-distance bike riders. These people share a mutual passion for the sports and, therefore, make a great support system. You can relate your anxieties and doubts to them if you have any, and they can share insights and tips on how they have managed to overcome theirs.

Long-distance bike riding is by no means easy. It takes a lot of physical strengths and mental focus to finish the entire course. If you wish to engage in this activity, you should be mindful of the proper way of training for a long distance bike ride as indicated in the steps above.


Useful Tips for Traveling

Dear fellow travellers!

No matter how much I travel, I always end up getting butterflies in my belly whenever I have to prepare for a new trip. It never gets old. I simply assume that it’s part of the fun! For those of you who don’t have too much experience or want to get familiar with a calmer and more relaxed travelling style, I’m here to share with you some basic travelling tips I always employ.

Planning ahead is the key to a successful trip. Don’t worry about this being too rigid and the danger of it hampering any possibilities of experiencing unexpected adventures. The idea is to set a general plan and travel with an open mind to break the plan whenever something great presents itself before us. I’ve often found that when I looked for the romanticism of travelling towards the unexpected, I missed out on very interesting possibilities and ended up wasting large amounts of my time. On the other hand, when I have prepared carefully my itinerary, I found myself encountering many unexpected situations and taking full advantage of them. This made me arrive back home having lived many experiences and not having had enough!

For an efficient planning, I tend to rely on certain aspects of my travel. The accommodation is crucial, somewhere where you can feel comfortable when you hit the bed. Maximum privacy for maximum comfort, without forgetting about the toilet. Remember, we want to feel like home. Remember to check for special events in the days you are traveling and book at least the first few nights in advance. I met someone who travelled to Japan from Europe during the cherry blossom season without booking the hotel. After two sleepless nights, he looked for a place to rest. He was forced to book a plane ticket back to Europe, losing a lot of money and gaining high levels of stress in the process. Knowing beforehand where to find the best places to eat within your budget will also do wonders in fully enjoying the travel and feeling energized by it. Knowing these places, however, does not mean that we should force ourselves to eat there. If a new opportunity presents itself, remember, open up to everything and enjoy the good things you may encounter.

On the other hand, having previous knowledge of the ins and outs of transportation wherever you are traveling will help you move in a quick and efficient manner, helping you save money in the process.

As I mentioned before, don’t underestimate the toilet. Every opportunity that you have, you should go, be it in a restaurant, in an office, or in a museum. We never know when we can go again!

To all my fellow travellers, take care and plan ahead!


How to Ride a Bike

OK. So this is kind of weird for some, but I come across people most of the time who have never learned to ride a bike! I thought I’d put this out there as advice to folks looking forward to get on a bike for the first time no matter how old or young they are.

A bicycle can be put to many uses in day to day living and regularly doing so can enrich your lifestyle and health.

These are the simple steps to ride a bicycle:

First, locate a safe place preferably a concrete or short grass ground. It is important to note that the areas chosen are free from traffic, not rough and are not very steep. Ensure the seat is adjusted properly and the brakes are in order. If the brakes are on the handlebars, test to verify the one that controls the rear tire and the front tire. This can be done by pushing on the ground and applying the brakes. The seat needs to be adjusted so that the feet can touch the ground while seated. The long trousers need to be rolled up so as not to be trapped by the mechanisms while riding. Also remember to avoid wearing shoes that slide in the event you don’t want to use the brakes. Wearing of loose clothes should be avoided because they can get stuck and lead to accident. Helmet is important to protect the head. When practicing, avoid sudden application of brakes for this can lead to falling. Apply brakes gently when alighting.

Embark on bicycle with the seat lowered by ensuring one foot is on the ground until ready. Push yourself while balancing and steering. Take your time in this stage until balancing and steering are gained. Also learn how to turn. Remember, riding slowly will make one lose balance, therefore try as much as possible to move a bit faster to achieve balance. One can engage the services of a helper who can hold the bike at the back to stabilize.

After practicing on balancing and steering, walk to a gentle slope and ride down. Note that the end of the slope should be a flat area. Repeat to gather balancing.

After becoming comfortable with placing the feet on the pedals, practice riding down gentle slopes. Also learn how to apply brakes, maintaining balance and inclining.

Raise the seat but take note to have your toes’ tips touch the ground while seated. Learn to pedal down the slope and the flat area. Make slight turns then sharp turns, braking and disembarking and remain supported by one foot for balancing. Learn how to pedal from stop. Pedal up the slope and once these are mastered, try challenging tasks to gain knowledge on riding.

Patience, persistence and determination are important.