Cycling as Outdoor Exercise: A Beginner's Guide
You can't beat a bit of outdoor exercise.
No gym subscriptions. No space restrictions. No waiting your turn for the treadmill. It's just you, the great outdoors and as much fresh, clean air as you can breathe.
And there are dozens of ways to enjoy it. You can walk, jog, kayak, hike or climb. You can even stick to one spot and indulge in a little outdoor yoga.
All great options. But in our minds, there are few things better than hopping on a bicycle and exploring on two wheels.
Why? Simple. Not only is cycling fun and practical, but it has proven benefits for the mind and body.
In this article, we explore some of these benefits and show you how to put your pedals to good use.
Cycling is a proven form of outdoor exercise
If you want to crank up your cardio routine, get on your bike.
Cycling is a proven and effective way to exercise your heart, lungs and metabolism. As well as improving your overall fitness level, this can help reduce the risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
And unlike some other forms of outdoor exercise like running, cycling provides a low-impact workout. You might work up a sweat, but you're unlikely to suffer long-lasting aches and pains.
Cycling is good for your mental health
There's a reason that cycling fans are so invested in their sport. Cycling makes you happy. And things that make you happy are downright addictive.
According to the NHS, cycling can boost your mood and help combat mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. This is true of all forms of exercise – but there's something special about racing along a cycle path with the wind rushing past your face. Pure bliss.
The bottom line: if you feel down, try saddling up!
Cycling is a great way to explore your surroundings
Unless you're an endurance runner, jogging can only get you so far.
Cycling, on the other hand, makes your local area your oyster. A person of average fitness can tackle about 20 miles on a bike in a single session – a distance that would challenge even the most seasoned runners.
What will you do with all that extra mileage? We'd bet there's a countryside trail with your name on it…
Cycling suits almost everyone
Did you ride a bike when you were a child? Great! You can ride a bike as an adult too.
The maxim of 'you never forget…' isn't a myth. Scientists say our cycling abilities are stored in the procedural memory – the same space where we keep 'second-nature' skills like playing musical instruments, tying shoelaces and cooking favourite recipes.
This makes riding a bike accessible to almost anyone – so long as they're physically able to do so.
And if you've never learnt – no problem. Look for a training course near you, where friendly instructors will help you get to grips with those gears.
Cycling is good for the planet
Cycling isn't just an effective workout. It's also a practical and eco-friendly way to get from A to B.
Look at it this way: you can't canoe to work but you can cycle. And if you swap four wheels for two, you'll get some dailyoutdoor exercise and do your bit to cut carbon emissions.
Let's be real here, though. Bikes aren't entirely green – manufacturing a bike has a fairly hefty carbon footprint, for one. Compared to cars, however, bikes are lean, mean, green machines.
Cycling is fun, especially with friends
Riding a bike might seem like a solitary pursuit. And indeed, many cyclists value their daily ride as a form of mobile meditation. Get those wheels spinning and you'll soon forget about your worries and woes.
And it's fun, even on your own. But if you throw some friends into the mix, you'll have all the more reason to smile. There's nothing quite like exploring the great outdoors in convoy.
Don't have any pedal-happy pals? Do a quick search online and you're sure to find beginner-friendly cycling groups in your area.
Tips for beginners
Want to make cycling part of your outdoor exercise routine? Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Buy smart: different bikes suit different people, so seek advice to find one that's right for you. And if you buy second-hand, make sure to get it serviced before you ride for real.
- Be seen: you don't need much in the way of special equipment to start cycling, but bright clothes and lights are a must. If you're not visible, you're in danger.
- Practice first: you never forget how to ride a bike, but you might be a little wobbly if you haven't ridden in a while. Consider practising in your local park before you hit the roads.
- Start slow: don't overdo it. As with any outdoor exercise, you should adapt your pace and distance to suit your fitness level.
- Know your code: cyclists must follow the Highway Code, just as drivers do. Brush up, stay safe and choose a route that's suitable for cycling.
Enjoy plenty of outdoor exercise at The Glass House
Did someone say, 'free bike rental'?
That's right. When you book a stay at The Glass House, you can hire a bicycle for free.
And that's on top of the other world-class facilities we offer. Like our heated indoor pool and outdoor swimming pond. Like our sauna, steam room and spa. Like our fully loaded gym and bright, spacious fitness studio.
Why the generosity? Because we want our guests to enjoy the best in mind and body wellness. This means providing easy access to indoor and outdoor exercise opportunities, as well as healthy food, chill-out spaces and a great night's sleep.
Plus, we're surrounded by the gorgeous Essex countryside. It seems a shame not to saddle up and start exploring.
To get going, simply speak to our friendly reception staff. As well as providing a nifty hybrid bike and safety helmet, they can suggest routes so you can make the most of your new wheels.