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'On your bike' - cycling and the health benefits

Published: 17 Jun 2015

As British cycling's road cycling show-stopper, the gruelling Aviva Tour of Britain is now the largest free to spectate sporting event in the UK, with over 1.5 million spectators in 2014.

With cycling being a popular form of transport, perhaps to and from work, as well as a great way to exercise, we’ve highlighted a few simple health essentials that make cycling much more enjoyable for everyone involved:

  • One – wear appropriate clothing. For cyclists, that means wearing a helmet that’s made to the British Standard (BS EN 1078:1997), positioned snugly and squarely on your head. The helmet should always be fastened properly. It’s important to check this with younger children on a regular basis. Make sure the straps aren't twisted, and there’s just enough room for two fingers between your chin and the strap.
  • Two – get the right seating position. For cyclists? That means setting your seat at a height that’s comfortable. Put one heel on a pedal, and then see if you can straighten your leg when the pedal is furthest from the saddle. That’s about right: if you can’t straighten your leg without the seat being at its highest setting then you probably need a larger bike.
  • Three – use your head. For cyclists, that means not using a mobile phone while you’re cycling, and it also means not wearing headphones of any kind. These will both reduce your concentration on the road around you substantially, and they’ll make you a hazard to other traffic.

Why is cycling so popular?

We think it’s because it’s a sport that’s so accessible to all. Children as young as two or three years old can get involved, and the old saying really is true – you can’t unlearn to ride a bike.

As it’s also a low-impact form of transport, cycling is also an easy exercise to fit into your daily routine, whether that’s cycling to school with your children or commuting to the office on a regular basis. Apart from some appropriate clothing and the initial purchase of a bicycle, it’s essentially free too. It’s also good for the environment.

What makes cycling such a good form of exercise?

Cycling is a low-impact, high-return activity: it’s much easier on your joints than running or jogging. But it still gives you a great cardiovascular workout. The action of cycling – pushing those pedals round and round, even if it’s on the flat – will really get your heart pumping, the blood coursing through your veins, and the oxygen racing around your body.

The Aviva Women’s Tour will be taking place around the East of England between 17-21 June, whilst the Aviva Tour of Britain is happening between 6-13 September across England, Scotland and Wales.

For more information, visit the Tour of Britain website.

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