Exercise is a scary word for many people. It conjures up thoughts of pain and strain. Of having to do things you really don’t want to do. The truth is that exercise doesn’t have to be about breathlessness and aching muscles. If you get into the habit of everyday exercise you won’t even know you’re doing it.
I’m going to the dentist today. Another of those things that people really don’t want to do! It is about five and a half miles to my dentist from home. With the rain making outside very uninviting it would be easy to get in the car and drive. But I’m going to cycle there.
Cycling will take me about half an hour, compared to the twenty minutes it would take me in the car. The dentist may look at me a bit funny when I arrive a little damp and wearing lycra. I can see only the advantages though. I will arrive less stressed out and feeling good about myself. Hopefully this will make me more relaxed when I’m in the dreaded chair! I will also have saved money. Every time I walk or cycle somewhere it means one less start up of the car and a few (or a lot) of pennies saved on petrol.
If you just want to be a little more healthy and burn some extra calories then everday exercise is perfect for you. All it takes is a little thought. We miss so much when travelling by car and, for short journey’s, we often gain no time. Next time you have a short journey to make why not consider making it on two wheels or just two feet?!
I am lucky enough to live only three and a half miles from work and love being able to cycle in regularly. Getting on the bike, even for twenty minutes, really wakes me up. There’s no point pretending that I always want to jump on the bike at home time but by the time I’m half way home I’m always glad I did. The cars sit bumper to bumper on the roads burning fuel and I whizz along the cycle path burning calories.
Of course there are days I jump in the car. Maybe I have something heavy to carry, am shooting off somewhere after work or just don’t fancy it. It’s ok to have lazy days or to let convenience take over occasionally. But I never get to work any faster than on the bike.
It doesn’t have to be a work commute. If I am meeting friends for coffee or need to pop to the shops then the bike is a great alternative.
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
The main thing with cycling is to make sure you are comfortable on your bike. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, or brand new, bicycle. If you can get your seat height right, have an idea of when to change gear and get your tyres inflated correctly, then you are away! I have tried to find a simple article online which helps with this but am struggling to find one which covers just the basic points. See below for a few tips:
- Seat Height – To get this correct, sit on your bike, with the ball of your foot on one pedal. When the pedal is at the bottom of the bike your knee should only be very slightly bent. If you find you are struggling to reach the pedal or that your knee is very bent adjust the seat height accordingly.
- Gears – Whether you have three gears or twenty you should always make life easy for yourself by using them. If your legs are spinning round too fast or it feels like you are pedalling through glue, you are in the wrong gear! Don’t be afraid to click through your gears to find the one which makes it easy to pedal whilst still getting power out of your legs.
- Tyre Inflation – As with car tyres, bike tyres have correct inflation guidelines. They are written on the side of your tyre in bar and/or PSI. Even some of the most basic pumps have an inflation gauge on them. Pedalling on underinflated tyres is just making life tough for yourself. Check those tyres and get them pumped!
For lots more tips on bike set up and safety head to the British Cycling Website.
No bike, no problem!
Everyday exercise can be as simple as walking to your friend’s house. Popping round for a cuppa or a glass of wine? Dropping the children off? Heading back to the shops for the five items you forgot from your ‘big shop’? Get walking!
This weekend my Dad wanted to show my sister, sister in law and I his new allotment. It was two miles from the house, so we grabbed the dog and went for a family run. The dog was happy, we got a little exercise and we left the car at home. We all celebrated with Mum’s amazing Sunday Brunch.
You may have seen people lately staring at their wrists and declaring how many steps they have taken that day. Fitness watches are becoming more and more popular but they can be expensive and you may already have that technology at your fingertips.
If you have an iPhone look out for a little pre-loaded app called Health. This shows on your phone as a white square with a heart in it. This app is great for a variety of things and you can use it to link with other apps. Open the app and tap on the Activity square. Straight away you should be able to see how many steps you have taken that day, how far you have walked and run and how many flights of stairs you have climbed. Of course the app only records the activity you have taken whilst the phone is on your person.
A Little Tip
As an aside, another great feature of the Health app is its medical ID set up. In the app, at the bottom right of the screen, you will see Medical ID. Touch this and set up your emergency contact and medical information which can be accessed by the emergency services in case of an accident. If you want to know more about how this works just get in touch.
The best thing about everyday exercise is that you can feel proud and good about yourself each time you do it. I know that everyone’s lifestyle is different and it isn’t always easy to find the time. If it takes ten minutes more to walk or cycle then really think about going for it. You will be amazed at how much more you see and appreciate when you get out of the car.
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