Diabetes And Cycling: Why It May Be Even Better For You Than Walking

Types of Cycling

The really great thing about cycling is that it’s not one-size-fits-all. No, you do not need to be that guy in spandex with 3 percent body fat cycling up a hill at 5am. Nor do you need to be Little-Miss-Fitness attending every Spin class offered at every gym in a 20-mile radius.

There are options, and several of them are designed with more hesitant exercisers in mind. Here’s a rundown:

Photo: AdobeStock/elnariz
Photo: AdobeStock/elnariz

Road Cycling

This is exactly what it sounds like: you, on a bike, on the road. This includes everything from a leisurely ride down the boardwalk on a beach cruiser to cycling along busy streets downtown.

Pros: It’s easy to get started. You just need a bike (used is fine) and access to the outdoors. You do not need clip-in shoes or anything spandex. Just grab a helmet and go for a cruise around your neighborhood. Many bike shops or sports stores have recommendations for rides and can help you get your bike adjusted (whether or not you bought your bike from them). Try running a small errand on your bike so that you can get something done while you’re exercising—bonus!

Cons: You’re out in the weather, and it’s hard to carry an umbrella while on a bike (though you can convert your outdoor bike to an indoor stationary bike rather easily).

Another downside is that unless you live in a calm area or have access to bike trails, riding alongside cars can be intimidating and dangerous. Be pro-active about your safety. Biking on the street can also be intimidating if you’re not used to it. And let’s be honest, that seat is not comfortable.

Photo: pixabay/fietzfotos
Photo: pixabay/fietzfotos

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Indoor Cycling in Group Classes

Indoor cycling has grown with the rise of various brands of group cycle classes, and it’s not surprising because indoor cycling offers an excellent workout that doesn’t depend on the whims of the weather.

Pros: If you’re a group exercise person, a cycling class can offer a high-intensity workout that is surprisingly customizable—you can adjust the resistance to be appropriate for your fitness level. If you like working out to music or meeting new people, you’ll love cycle classes! They are both fun and challenging. Arrive a few minutes early for help setting up your bike and a quick class overview. Even if you don’t end up liking the class, at least you don’t have to worry about falling off your bike!

Cons: If you’re competitive, you may feel pressured to keep up with the rest of the class. Also, if you don’t like to sweat in front of other people, an indoor cycling class may not be right for you.

Photo: AdobeStock/WavebreakMediaMicro
Photo: AdobeStock/WavebreakMediaMicro

Indoor Cycling on your own

Indoor bikes on the gym floor or for home use allow you to use your own music, or even browse through a magazine. Some bikes even come with drink holders—for water, of course!

Pros: Indoor bikes tend to be the most comfortable and are often designed for people who need a more supported workout. They have more comfortable seats and handles. They are easy to use and offer a digital display that shows distance covered, heart rate, and calories burned (note that calories burned is an estimate). Recumbent indoor bikes are especially helpful for people who are larger or have less mobility.

Cons: These bikes tend to be easier to use, which is great, but it also means you can spend a lot of time on them without getting an effective workout if you’re not paying attention. A good rule of thumb is to shoot for an effort level where you can talk, but not sing. If things seem too easy either pick up the pace or turn up the resistance!

Photo: AdobeStock/Minerva Studio
Photo: AdobeStock/Minerva Studio


Now these are cool! E-bikes aren’t motorized scooters because you do have to pedal and do some work, but they help you out so that you can get up a hill or go for a long ride without feeling like a wet noodle when you’re done.

Pros: E-bikes are often designed to be comfortable for first-time exercisers. They have comfortable seats and handles, provide a smooth ride, and of course, help you pedal! The bikes have different levels of assistance so that you can adjust based on how much help you need. With an e-bike, anyone can be confident that they can finish a long ride successfully, but they do provide a good workout!

Cons: They’re not cheap! You can find a less advanced e-bike for under a thousand dollars, but you can also spend over three thousand. Some big cities have rentable e-bikes available, so check to see if you can try one out before shelling out the cash.

Photo: pixabay/bicicleta
Photo: pixabay/bicicleta

Recumbent bikes

Recumbent bikes aren’t just for the gym, you can hit the road on them too!

Pros: Recumbent bikes are great if you need more support. They offer comfortable seats, more stability, less danger of falling, and less distance to fall if you do manage to tip one over. If you want to enjoy the great outdoors, but need more support than a road bike can offer, the recumbent may be for you!

Cons: Recumbents may draw stares since they’re not as popular (yet). They are less visible then regular bikes so they may not be well-suited to riding in traffic. They are also less visible in traffic and may not be as powerful on big hills.

Photo: flickr/Alastair Humphreys
Photo: flickr/Alastair Humphreys

The most important thing about your exercise is that it actually gets done, so find something that works for you, and find a way to enjoy it! Stay healthy, friends!

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