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Let’s get cycling!

To celebrate national bike week on 5 June, Iquo talks about how having a back injury introduced her to the love of cycling, and how she continues to enjoy the benefits of exercise and being outdoors.

Female cycling on a country lane
Female cyclist on bike

I started cycling around 5 years ago. I’ve always loved sport and exercise, being an avid runner in my younger days. However, old age, creaking joints and a back problem put a stop to all of that. Feeling bereft that I could no longer run, I tried many other activities to try and capture the euphoric buzz that exercise can give. Gym classes, lifting weights, running around with thirty others doing burpees, star jumps and other excruciating workouts, however, it just wasn’t the same.

Until a friend persuaded me to borrow her husband’s bike and helmet (I honestly thought I wouldn’t find a helmet to fit my afro!!) and go for a bike ride. It was amazing. I instantly fell in love with cycling. And when I say love, I really mean it. Cycling is fantastic. It gives me freedom. It’s all about being outside, the wind in your hair (even with a helmet), and the sights and sounds of life in the countryside. It doesn’t take long before you leave behind the hustle and bustle of city life and find yourself amongst cows, sheep and other gorgeous animals.

It’s sociable too. I’m a member of a group ‘Sunday Morning Spinners’ and enjoy being in the company of like-minded people pootling about on a Sunday morning, stopping off for a coffee and a sneaky slice of cake. The group increased my confidence. When I started cycling, it took me months to understand how gears even worked. I couldn’t ride up hills without panicking, they get much easier with practice, like anything else. I can now cycle 75 miles with around 1000+ elevation, feeling daunted but joyful and elated once completed.

I try to get out at least once a week, for a couple of hours or more. I’m looking to start training and competing in races / sportifs, that’s my next challenge.

For anyone thinking of dipping their toe into the world of cycling, I would wholeheartedly encourage. There are so many benefits for both your physical and mental health.

1. Cardiovascular Fitness:

It’s an excellent cardiovascular exercise that elevates heart rate, strengthens the heart muscles, and improves overall endurance. In addition, regular cycling helps to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

2. Weight Management:

It’s an effective way to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight. As a low-impact exercise, it puts less stress on the joints than activities like running. A moderate-paced bike ride can burn anywhere from 300 to 600 calories per hour, depending on factors such as weight and intensity.

3. Increased Muscle Strength and Tone:

Cycling engages various muscle groups, including the legs, thighs, calves, and glutes. Regular cycling helps to build strength and tone these muscles, leading to improved overall muscular endurance.

4. Stress Reduction:

Cycling outdoors in the picturesque landscapes of the Humber and North Yorkshire provides a refreshing break from daily routines and allows you to reconnect with nature. The combination of physical activity and exposure to natural environments has been proven to reduce stress levels and improve mood.

5. Boosted Mental Well-being:

Regular cycling stimulates the production of endorphins, also known as “feel-good” hormones. These natural chemicals promote a sense of happiness, relaxation, and general well-being. As a result, cycling can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression and enhance overall mental resilience.

6. Social Interaction and Community Engagement:

Cycling can be a social activity, as there are various cycling clubs, group rides, and events throughout Humber and North Yorkshire. Joining these groups provides an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, build friendships, and foster a sense of community, which positively impacts mental well-being.

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