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OPINION: Bicycling — an option for family fitness

by Siloam Springs Regional Hospital | August 2, 2022 at 7:00 a.m.

Did you know that bicycles have been around for over a century? It's true. What began as an idea for a creative way to get around has evolved into a smart piece of technology used for everything from basic transportation to exercise. By incorporating bicycle riding into your exercise program, you can burn calories, strengthen muscles, shed fat and improve your overall health.

Establishing a riding program isn't as difficult as you may think. It just takes a little gear and little willpower. Follow these tips to get started:

• Get a bike -- Either dig it out of the garage for a tune-up or purchase a new one.

• Get the gear -- There are some essentials in cycling: helmet, pump, puncture repair kit, spare inner tube and a small tool kit. If you're riding at night, wear reflective clothing and install lights on your bike.

• Get going -- One of the best parts of bicycling is that you choose your own route. The sky's the limit as long as your bike is equipped to fit the terrain. If you're a beginner, make sure to pace yourself. Before starting any exercise program, speak with your primary health care provider.

Improving your health

Riding regularly improves your health in a variety of ways including the following:

• Increased fitness -- Riding your bike improves strength, stamina, aerobic fitness and muscle function, and there's little risk of strain.

• Reduced risk of heart attack -- We all know that regular exercise is good for your body, but it's good for your heart, too. Cycling can strengthen your heart muscles, lower your resting pulse and reduce blood fat levels.

• Shedding excess weight -- Cycling is more comfortable for overweight people than other activities. It can burn body fat and raise your metabolism, making losing weight easier. In addition, regular exercise allows a person to enjoy a varied diet without increasing body weight.

• Reducing stress -- Regular exercise has been shown to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression. Riding your bike is no exception!

Variety is the spice of life

You've got your bike, helmet and the will -- now all you need is a way to keep things interesting. A riding program with variation is good physically, working different parts of your body. But changing your pace will also keep you interested in riding your bicycle.

Variety is the spice of life, so sprinkle some on with these tips from www.gorp.com, a website dedicated to outdoor recreation and active travel.

• Go the extra mile -- Change how far you cycle from day to day.

• Rough it up -- One day cycle a challenging route, the next day ride leisurely.

• Liven up your landscape -- Hills, plains, mountains, try them all!

• It takes two -- Invite friends or family to join you.

Siloam Springs Internal Medicine offers comprehensive care, from routine and preventive health services to special needs. Helping you to maintain good health and wellness -- for a lifetime -- is our primary goal. Call 479-215-3070 today to schedule an appointment or visit NW-Physicians.com.

About Siloam Springs Regional Hospital

Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a licensed 73-bed facility with 42 private patient rooms. It is accredited by the State of Arkansas Department of Health Services and The Joint Commission. Some services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, emergency medicine, medical, surgical and intensive care units, obstetrics, outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. With more than 50 physicians on the medical staff, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital provides compassionate, customer-focused care. SSRH is an affiliate of Northwest Health, the largest health system in Northwest Arkansas. Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is located at 603 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs. For more information, visit NorthwestHealth.com.

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