Cycling is pretty hot at the moment. If you’re on a get fit journey, you’ve probably already bought your bike and all the gear. We’re talking designer helmets, lycra cycling shorts, even things like helmet friendly earbuds. All the better for getting the most out of this workout.
What you might not realize is that going out on your bike at the wrong time could do more harm than good for your fitness. To some extent, you could say this about any outdoor activity. Still, cycling especially falls foul to the clock. Get this wrong, and you could either do yourself an injury or fail to feel any benefits.
Which leads us onto the question of how you know when would be the best time to go. To some extent, this depends on your lifestyle. Work commitments mean many of us are restricted. As such, we aren’t going to set you an exact cycling routine. Instead, we’re going to look at the things you may want to consider before heading out.
The business of the roads
The business of the roads you cycle on is one of the most important considerations. If you don’t have to hit the road then this point is void. For the majority of us, though, at least some road-based cycling is a given each time we go out. As such, it’s essential you time your cycling sessions to fit dips in traffic. If you head out at rush hour, for example, you could end up with a severe injury instead of a satisfying workout. A shocking amount of cyclists end up receiving bike accident payouts for injuries received through mistakes like these. As well as causing you initial pain, an injury could see you unable to get back out for an indeterminate amount of time. It may even knock your confidence to the degree where you never get back on that bike again. Then, your fitness attempts would come crashing down around you. Don’t do it. Instead, try to get out early if possible. Failing that, consider going out during the early afternoon when the kids are in school, and their parents are working. If you’re unsure which option would be best, monitor road activity for a few days. Sometimes it isn’t until you pay attention to something like this that you notice how much it varies.
The visibility available
It’s also worth noting that it’s very rarely a good idea to go out on your bike after dark. This is more of a problem with the afternoons growing darker, but it’s still essential. Your best bet during these winter months would be to get out in the morning instead when you can. There are a few reasons why cycling in the dark could be dangerous for your health. For one, you may again experience trouble on the roads. Even with lights and hi-vis jackets, cyclists aren’t always visible to drivers of big cars or trucks. If one of those ploughs into you, you’re going to know about it. Even if you don’t need to cycle on the road, darkness is not your cycling friend. Being able to see things like holes or stones in your path is essential. Even with a light, you’ll struggle to see these things if you’re cycling in total darkness. If you hit anything like this at speed, it could cause a severe fall. Again, that could result in an injury which sees you unable to cycle for a while. To add insult to injury, you would find yourself in the middle of nowhere with no way of getting back home. That in itself is bad news. Don’t let it happen, then. Always make sure that the sun is shining before you put your helmet on.
The time you have
It’s also rarely worth heading out on a bike if you don’t have much time to play with. While a ten-minute jogging session is better than nothing, the same can’t be said for cycling. In reality, it takes around half an hour on your bike to make this worth your while. And, yes, we mean half an hour of continual peddling. If you don’t have long, there are other exercise methods which are sure to suit you much better than this. Focusing on cycling at times like these could prevent you from achieving the fitness levels you’re after. The problem is, of course, that cycling is not a quick thing to get going with. It’ll take you around ten minutes to sort out your gear, helmet, and bike. By that time, you won’t be able to push yourself far enough to see results. Make sure, then, that you leave yourself ample time to make this worth your while.
Don’t forget your digestion
Okay, you’ve got us. To some extent, digestion is a crucial element to the timing of any exercise method. If you don’t leave at least two hours after meals, you’re sure to feel the burn. In extreme cases, exercising on a full stomach can lead to anything from acid reflux to sickness. It’ll certainly stop you from being able to put much energy into your efforts. The reason we bring this up relating to bikes is that cycling uses various muscles in your body. You would be amazed by how much you work your stomach when you’re out for a ride. Don’t assume that the fact you’ll be sitting down means you can skip out on this rule. Waiting for your food to go down is just as crucial when you’re riding a bike, if not more so. Two hours after a meal, then, is still a good general rule to stick with here.
We know what you’re thinking. You’ll never have time if you take all these rules into account, right? But, you may actually find that narrowing things down in this way gives you more incentive to get going. If you only have a limited time to play with, after all, there’s far more reason to make the most of it.