Sign of the bike lane

Better health is what happens when you cycle!


bike-427954_1920You know you need to get exercise, but does going to the gym cause a sense of dread?  Have you found going to the gym to be inconvenient and quite boring?  What if you found a way to get your exercise and smile too?  I found them both on my !

Benefits of Physical Activity

First off I would like to say that before starting an exercise routine you should consult your physician.  I am not a doctor and while I can comment in general terms, your doctor should be  the one to advise you in regard to your specific health needs.  Your physician will be able to address any special needs or concerns that you might have.

We all know that physical activity is beneficial.  As per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can help:

  • Control your weight
  • Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
  • Reduce your risk of some cancers
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles
  • Improve your mental health and mood
  • Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
  • Increase your chances of living longer

Looking over the above list we can see that there are some important ways that regular exercise can benefit our health.  If being aware of these benefits were enough I would have been healthy a long time ago, but it’s not.  If knowing how to perform certain exercises were enough I would have been healthy a long time ago, but it’s not.  No, it seems that I did not experience any results until I decided to couple this knowledge with some actual action!

Excuses, excuses!

I was fully aware that physical exercise is the key to being fit and healthy. I wanted to be fit and healthy, but I loathed exercise.  My excuses for not exercising were typical I am sure.  My excuses included:

  • I’m too fat!
  • I’m in bad shape!
  • I’m too old
  • I’m too tired!
  • I don’t have time!
  • I’ve never been athletic!
  • Exercise hurts!
  • Exercise is hard!
  • Exercise is boring!

Those are a lot of excuses and there were some partial truths involved.  I was fat and in bad shape, but my doctor had advised me to exercise on numerous occasions.  I was older than I had ever been but my grandfather had walked 3 miles a day until he was in his 90’s.  I was tired but I had been told that exercise would increase my energy level.  I didn’t have time to exercise but I had time to watch tv and read.  I have never been an athlete.  Sure, as a kid I had done a fair share of playing baseball and shooting some basketball but nothing that had developed into a habit that I would carry into adulthood.  I was advised that I didn’t have to be involved in a sport but that anything that got me moving would be beneficial.  My excuses were falling like dominos but I still had that exercise hurts, it’s hard, and that it’s boring.

Cycling as an exercise

My wife had gotten interested in riding a bike for exercise.  Because of some balance issues she had she decided on a three wheeled bike.  I was not sold on the idea initially, but I came around.  I actually wrote a post about my conversion titled, “Doing a 180 on a Recumbent .”  I purchased a three wheeled recumbent bike and quickly realized the potential of riding a trike for exercise. What I have learned is that recreational riding of a bike or trike is a great aerobic exercise with the following benefits:

  • You can choose the level of intensity of your cycling.  You can cycle at low intensity as you build muscle strength and stamina.  Cycling allows you to work up to more a physically demanding workout if you desire
  • Cycling is a low impact exercise and causes less risk of joint injury than most other sports.
  • A person doesn’t need high levels of physical talent to ride their trike.  
  • Riding is a lot of fun.  I have great memories of riding a bike as a kid and nothing has changed.  I still enjoy the wind in my face and that feeling of freedom as I zip down the greenway.  The fact that cycling is fun will help a person to actually keep doing it.
  • You can enjoy being outdoors.
  • It can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
  • You can meet new people as most cyclists are really nice and encouraging.
  • And finally, all the cool people are doing it!

 

Show me them digits!

Lists of potential health benefits may not say enough on their own.   Sometimes we like to witness some confirmed results!  I purchased and started riding my delta trike after a visit to my doctor.  I had some blood work done on the 17th of February and had gotten some results that were less than stellar.  I needed to get my blood sugar under control.  

My first recorded ride was on February 27th. I wasn’t riding long before I was feeling better in general and had an elevated mood.  I knew from testing that I was getting better blood sugar readings than I had in the weeks before.  The scale was giving me a great bit of affirmation as I watched the weight come down.  I had incorporated a diet strategy that had been taught to me at the diabetes clinic.  By adding regular riding of my trike and following my diet, I could actually see and feel the difference.  Friends and relatives were starting to notice that I was losing weight!

On May 18th I had follow-up blood work to see how my HbA1c was doing.  The results were incredible!!.  

  • My A1c went from 8.6 in February to 5.5!!
  • My triglycerides went from 452 to 157!!
  • My ALT and AST went back to the “normal” range!!
  • My cholesterol from 210 to 179!!
  • Total weight loss of 25lbs!!!

Keep it Up!

Seeing improvements in my blood work has given me more motivation to keep up the diet and exercise.  Cycling on my has made it fun.  I few tips that might help stay motivated.

  • Set reasonable and achievable goals
  • Find encouraging family members and friends to help keep you on track.
  • Be sure and keep a record of your progress.  I personally like apps for this.
  • Don’t beat yourself up about your current level of .  All this will do is demotivate you!!  It’s what you learn and do from this point forward that matters!!
  • Remember to have fun!!  You don’t have to hurt and do what you hate to get into better physical shape. Even modest amounts of exercise you have an impact.

Better health can happen if you get out and ride!
 
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