Do This Before You Get on a Bike
May is National Bike Month, making it the perfect time to dust off your bicycle and take it for a spin if you haven’t thought about riding in a while. Riding a bicycle can strengthen your heart, tone your muscles and burn calories. It’s a great cardiovascular workout that’s easy on your joints and can leave you reminiscing about carefree moments from your childhood.
Before you head out, whether for some fun or fitness, it’s important to follow these important safety tips:
- Do a pre-ride safety inspection. Give your bike a once-over to make sure it’s safe to ride. Test your brakes, chain, handlebars and tire pressure. Don’t assume there’s enough air in your tires just because they were okay last time you rode. The proper psi is listed on the sidewall of your tires so you’ll know how much pressure should be in there.
- Check your helmet. A helmet can save your life if you fall off your bike. Not only should you wear one every time you ride, but make sure the straps fit snugly under your chin and the helmet rests securely right above your eyebrows. Don’t think you can skip the helmet just because you’re not going too far or too fast. A fall can happen at any time so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Fuel up. Eat and drink something before you head out for a bike ride but don’t fill up too much. Choose a mix of protein and carbs to keep you going and enough water so you’re hydrated through your ride. Bring something with you if you’ll be out for a while.
- Warm up. Just as with any type of physical activity, your muscles and heart need time to warm up. Pedal slowly until you feel like your body is ready to get the gears in motion.
- Keep others informed. Always carry ID and take a cell phone with you (just don’t use it while you’re riding). Let someone know where you’re headed if you’re biking alone.
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Date Last Reviewed: March 15, 2018
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS