Fall is one of the most enjoyable times of the year to ride a bike. The air is crisp, the leaves are changing color and it feels great to be outside enjoying the season before winter sets in. If you have been thinking about getting on your bicycle, now is as good a time as any to do so.

Cycling offers both physical and mental benefits. It’s a great addition to any fitness routine and is easy to do no matter what your fitness level. Here are 5 reasons why you’ll want to dust off your bike and hop on.

It’s Easy On Your Joints

Bicycle riding gets your legs moving and your heart pumping without taking its toll on your joints. It’s a good option if you’re just starting to exercise, are recovering from injury, want to work out without putting too much strain on your knees and ankles or are a runner interested in an effective cross-training activity.

Because of the low-impact nature of the activity, many people find they can continue to ride a bicycle long after they would otherwise given up on other activities, such as running or weightlifting. It’s also easy to get started even if you’ve never exercised before.

It’s Good For Your Heart

You get the same cardiovascular benefits from bicycle riding as you do from other forms of aerobic exercise, such as running, swimming or dancing. To keep your heart healthy, it’s recommended that you fit in at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days per week.

It Tones Your Legs

Bicycle riding works your glutes, quads and calves. That makes for some nice looking legs. It also helps strengthen your core and upper body, giving you an all over workout.

It Burns Calories

A relaxing bike ride (<10 mph) burns approximately 281 calories/hour, which is substantially more than an easy walk (2 mph), which burns about 176 calories/hour. So even if you’re not pushing yourself hard, getting on your bike to take a leisurely ride around town can help you lose weight by upping your calorie burn. Push the pedal to the metal and you’ll burn even more. After you’re done riding, your body will likely still be burning more calories than if you were sedentary.

It’s Fun!

Remember that feeling of freedom you had as a kid when you jumped on your bike and took off down the street? That same feeling can be enjoyed even as an adult. In fact, getting out on your bike can be so much fun that you don’t even realize you’re also doing something good for your health!

There’s a growing body of scientific evidence that shows that cycling improves mood, releases stress and increases endorphins. Whether you’re biking around your local park, cruising along a beach or zipping through the city, there’s lots to see as you pedal away. Plus you can get to your destination a lot faster than you can if you go by foot. Joining a cycling group can also be a great way to get in a good workout while socializing with others who have similar interests.

Of course, safety should be a top priority when you’re riding a bike, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned rider. Here are some important bicycle safety tips:

  • Check your tire pressure, brakes, chains and quick release levers each time before you ride to make sure everything is working properly.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and keep an ID on you at all times.
  • Ride in the same direction as motor vehicles and obey all signs and traffic signals.
  • Be predictable. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve into traffic. Use hand signals when turning to let motorists know where you’re headed.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t wear headphones or talk on the phone while riding. Even momentary distractions can result in a mishap that leaves you injured.
  • Make yourself noticeable. If you ride after dark or when visibility is poor, make sure there are lights and reflectors on your bike and wear bright, reflective clothing.

Sources:

http://www.mensfitness.com/weight-loss/burn-fat-fast/10-reasons-to-get-on-a-bike

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/everything-you-need-to-know-about-biking

http://www.healthywomen.org/content/article/benefits-bike-riding

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glenn-riseley/19-reasons-why-cycling-is-the-best-exercise_b_7974474.html

http://bicyclesafe.com/

http://bikeleague.org/content/rules-road-0

http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/bicycle-safety/riding-skills-tips/#.V1H_rI-cHIU