Find out how regular cycling can help you lose weight, reduce stress and improve your health. Get tips on equipment, road safety and cycle routes.
Cycling is the third most popular recreational activity in the UK. An estimated 3.1 million people ride a bicycle each month.
Cycling is one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your daily routine because it's also a form of transport. That means it saves you money, gets you fit and contributes to a cleaner environment.
It's a low-impact type of exercise, so it's easier on your joints than running or other high-impact aerobic activities. But it still helps you get into shape.
For example, someone who weighs 80kg (12.6 stones) will burn more than 650 calories with an hour’s riding, and tone their legs and bottom. If you ride up hills or off-road, you'll also work your upper body.
The best way to build your cardiovascular fitness on the bike is to consistently ride twice during the week, then do a longer ride at the weekend. You'll soon feel the benefits.
- Look behind you before you turn, overtake or stop.
- Use arm signals before you turn right or left.
- Obey traffic lights and road signs.
- Don’t ride on the pavement unless there's a sign that says you can.
- On busy or narrow roads don’t cycle next to another person.
- When overtaking parked cars, watch out for car doors opening suddenly, and allow room to pass safely.
- Don’t use headphones while cycling.
- Never use a mobile phone while cycling.
Wearing a cycling helmet will significantly reduce your risk of serious head injury in an accident. For a proper fit, the helmet should fit snugly and shouldn’t allow any sideways movement.
Before you ride, check that you have the right kit, and that your bike is in good working order.
Make sure your tyres are pumped up. Test your brakes before you get on the road.
Check that your saddle is at the correct riding position for your height. If your saddle is too low, it will make it more difficult for you to pedal and you’ll get tired more quickly.
To get the right height, adjust the saddle until you can stretch your leg out and place the ball of your foot on the ground. This means that when your pedal is at its lowest position, your leg should be slightly bent. If your leg is completely straight when your pedal is at the lowest position, your saddle is too high.
If you’re cycling after dark, it’s important that you can be seen by other road users. Wear reflective clothing and make sure the lights on the front and back of your bike are both working. Use your lights when visibility is low, such as in bad weather.