Cycling is a great exercise that doubles as a means of transportation. It works out the whole body and also acts as a stress reliever, improving mental as well as physical health. Chris Guinn, D.O., who specializes in family medicine at Utica Park Clinic in Broken Arrow, is a cycling enthusiast. He shares how consistent cycling can benefit your health, and the best way to get started on a cycling journey.
A Whole Body Exercise
“Cycling as a routine form of exercise has numerous health benefits including maintaining healthy weight, increased cardiovascular and pulmonary fitness, decreased stress and improved mental health,” said Dr. Guinn. “Additionally, cycling is easily done with friends, making it a great social activity.”
Whether you are an experienced athlete or just starting your fitness journey, cycling is a low-impact exercise that can be easily adjusted to fit your needs. This can be accomplished by increasing distances, speed or including rides with challenging elevation. As with any exercise, proper preparation and recovery can help you get the most out of your rides.
“Recovery from a long ride starts before the ride ever does. Stretching and hydration are essential to ride performance and post-ride recovery. Additionally, proper nutrition before and after longer rides is essential to recovery and performance,” said Dr. Guinn. “There is potential to burn a lot of calories with longer rides and it is necessary to have proper energy to complete the ride.”
Pain and Discomfort
“Common complaints about cycling include back pain, neck pain or numbness and tingling in the feet. In many cases, these are the result of incorrect fit for the bike, most commonly seat height,” said Dr. Guinn. “Most local bike shops can fit the bike to you to help alleviate these issues. Proper equipment including padded bicycle bibs, shorts and shoes that are not too tight will also help to make your ride more comfortable.”
Dr. Guinn warns that even with the right fit and equipment, it’s possible to overdo it on a bike.
“All things in moderation, including moderation,” said Dr. Guinn. “Low to medium intensity cycling or cycling as a form of transportation is safe for most people daily or multiple times a week. Frequent high-intensity cycling; however, can result in increased risk of overuse or other injuries.”
If you experience pain or discomfort, don’t ignore it. Dr. Guinn recommends looking for the cause, then making appropriate adjustments. Proper training can also help with some forms of pain or discomfort.
“It is important to ride within your ability and increase distances over time; don’t try to go from a 10-mile ride to a 50-mile ride without some middle distances,” said Dr. Guinn. “Otherwise, you may find yourself becoming discouraged and stepping back from cycling altogether.”
Biking for fun
If you want to start cycling for your health or for fun, local bike shops are a good place to start. Staff at these spots are usually experienced enthusiasts who can point you in the direction of good resources to meet your biking goals.
“Social media is another great resource for information about places to ride as well as large group rides in your area,” said Dr. Guinn. “One of my favorite things about cycling is all the friends I’ve made! If you are just starting out, there are likely some experienced cyclists in your community who will take you in and teach the ropes.”
As a doctor of osteopathic medicine, Dr. Guinn takes a holistic approach to health care, allowing him to give recommendations for incorporating new exercises into your routine.
“If you have concerns about starting a new fitness routine, cycling or otherwise, I’d be happy to take you on as a patient and work with you to meet your health and fitness goals,” said Dr. Guinn. “I have additional tools in my arsenal for a whole-person approach to wellness.”
Dr. Guinn welcomes new patients at Utica Park Clinic at Broken Arrow South. To learn more or make an appointment, visit this link or call 918-455-4541.