Regular exercise is important to maintain health and fitness, and to prevent illness and injury. Biking is one activity that may be beneficial.
Benefits of Biking
Cycling can be done for many different reasons, such as for transportation, as in a work commute. It is “green”, saves gas money, and it can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Many people just bike for fun, others do it for fitness, and some perform cycling as professional or competitive athletes. Whatever the reason for bike riding, it does have several health benefits. Cycling can reduce heart disease, it can burn calories and improve metabolism, and it is helpful for “longevity” or “life-years”. Biking improves the immune system, mental health, and coordination. Bike riding is also excellent for muscle health, and it is especially beneficial as a “low-impact…exercise for those with joint conditions”.1
Types of Bikes
There are many types of bikes available to the public, in many configurations and price ranges. There are single-person bicycles, and those built for more than one person (i.e., tandem). Some bikes fold to make commuting easier. Some are geared towards specific sports, such as indoor track, outdoor racing, andmountain biking. There are electric bikes, recumbent bikes, pedicabs, and, of course, stationary bikes. The general bike categories, by function, include road bicycles, touring bicycles, cyclo-cross bikes, utility bicycles, freight bicycles, mountain bikes, hybrid bicycles, track cycles, triathlon bikes, BMX, and cruiser bicycles. For people with certain health conditions, a recumbent (seated) bicycle or tricycle might be ideal.2 Weather, seasonal allergies, geography, and time constraints need not be an obstacle to performing cycling for fitness. People can use stationary bikes at a gym, or in their home, to maintain fitness. During the winter, outdoor bikes can be converted to indoor use with a trainer, which turns a regular bicycle into a stationary bike.
Bike Seat Controversy
There has been some controversy regarding male fertility and cycling. Wearing tight biking shorts, and sitting for more than a half hour on a bike saddle, can raise body temperature and temporarily affect sperm production. It is important to take breaks and find the right bike seat.3 Another issue with bike seats is that nerves and blood vessels in the perineum can be affected, in both males and females. This can lead to tingling, numbness, and blood-flow issues.4 Proper bike adjustment, fitness levels, and length of exercise time all contribute to these issues. Bikes must be properly fit to the rider. This includes saddle and handlebar adjustments, as well as choosing the right sized bike frame. Bicycle saddles are not meant to carry the whole weight of the rider, and this is where fitness comes into play. As fitness levels improve, riders will help distribute their body weight over the pedals, handlebars, and seat. A recent study has shown that a “noseless saddle” may be beneficial to those who suffer from persistent numbness.5