Family Medicine Specialist
Cone Health Primary Care at MedCenter Kernersville
|Stephen A. Beese, MD|
When it comes to choosing an exercise, it’s hard to beat cycling for the health benefits. It’s an excellent way to build and tone muscles, and it lowers your risk of coronary heart disease. If you have joint problems, cycling provides a low-impact workout that burns a lot of calories. It’s also good for your mental health, allowing you to enjoy the open air as you pump up the endorphins.
If you would like to experience the cardio benefits of cycling on a regular schedule, independent of weather or season, consider participating in a "spin class" at your local gym.
Of course every cyclist knows that to enjoy these benefits, you have to be on the lookout for road hazards that could send you off course, or worse, to the emergency department. Every year, hospitals across the U.S. see a spike in cycling accidents as summer approaches. But if you keep these safety tips in mind, you can improve your odds of having a safe ride.
Always know what’s in front and behind you. Be alert for cars and other vehicles and for potential dangers like loose gravel, broken pavement, railroad tracks, sewer grates or anything that could cause you to lose control of the bike. Be especially careful around parked cars in case someone opens a door unexpectedly.
Wear a Helmet
Bike helmets aren’t just for kids. We have overwhelming evidence that wearing a helmet reduces your risk of head injuries if you have an accident. Check to make sure the helmet fits snugly and is properly fastened. Inspect your helmet regularly for any damage.
A high percentage of bike injuries happen at dusk or night when visibility is limited. In the daytime, wear fluorescent clothing so you can be easily seen, even from a distance. If you’re out at night, always use a front headlight and red taillights.
The same rules for distracted driving apply to cyclists. Skip the headphones on your ride, because you need to be alert to sounds like car engines, squealing tires or barking dogs coming in your direction. Don’t check your cell phone until you’ve stopped and are safely off the road.
Obey Traffic Rules
Bicyclists are expected to observe traffic rules such as stop signs and red lights just like drivers. That means never riding against the flow of traffic. Drivers won’t be expecting you to come from that direction, so accidents are more likely. You should also use hand signals to let drivers know where you intend to go.
Plan Your Route
The best routes for cyclists have less vehicle traffic, lower speed limits and wide shoulders. While it may be a longer route, chances are you’ll enjoy it more.