(This program is a guide only, and should be used as such. In preparing your own plan, take into account your personal situation.)
One look at all the benefits of cycling will explain why this is such a total fitness activity.
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The password for exercise today is aerobics - and cycling is an ideal aerobic activity. When done correctly, it helps your body use oxygen more efficiently, expands lung capacity and strengthens your heart.
To get the aerobic benefits of cycling, you must increase your pulse rate to between 60 per cent and 90 per cent of it's maximum capacity and keep it there for 20 minutes.
Determine your maximum heart beat:
Your maximum heart rate is based on your age. To work out yours:
- Subtract your age from the number 220,
- Calculate both 60 per cent and 90 per cent of the total. Eg. Age 35 (220-35=185x90%=167)
You should pedal intensively enough to step up your heart rate between 111 and 167 beats per minute.
The lower number represents the minimum beats you need for your cycling to become an aerobic activity. At the beginning of your cycling program, you should stay near this lower figure. As your body becomes more accustomed to cycling, you should aim for higher percentages.
To take your pulse place the first two fingers of one hand on your carotid artery, about 5cm to the right or left of your adam's apple. Count the beats for 10 seconds then multiply by six for your heart rate.
Bicycle for at least a half an hour at a time, three times a week. Riding more frequently isn't necessarily better. It's the effort that you put into riding and how long you cycle each time is important.
Your fitness program should proceed in stages so that your body prepares itself for the increased amount of work you want it to do. Try our program, but remember to check with your doctor before you begin, as with any exercise routine.
Stage 1 (weeks 1 to 3)
Six kilometres for 30 minutes.
Stage 2 (week 4)
Eight kilometres for 30 minutes.
Stage 3 (week 5)
Eleven kilometres for 30 minutes.
Note: If Stage 3 is too tiring, return to Stage 2 until your stamina has improved. It won't take long.
If you have time, increase your distance and time every third week thereafter.
For the best results, follow these guidelines at each stage.
1. Do five minutes of calf and leg stretches before starting to cycle. This helps prevent muscle strains and pulls. Then begin your ride by pedalling slowly for the first five minutes.
2. As you approach the end of your ride, pedal more slowly for the last five minutes. Complete the workout with another five minutes of calf and leg stretches.
Never over-exert yourself to pedal uphill. If the effort is too great, wheel your bike up the hill.