For those keen on some exercise, try cycling. Y. RAMAKRISHNA

Getting on your cycle regularly may not get you where you want to go faster than a car; but it would definitely protect you against a wide range of illnesses, and also make you feel better.

When done properly, cycling is an effective and enjoyable form of aerobic exercise.

Benefits

Cycling can reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

The indirect health benefits include reducing serious injuries caused by falls in older people, osteoporosis, and hip fractures.

Optimum results are achieved when cyclists are breathing heavily, but are not out of breath.

This exercise continues to burn fat even after the workout ends.

A few scientific studies suggest that exercising for 20 minutes at 55 to 65 per cent of aerobic capacity, as in riding briskly, elevates metabolism for 20 minutes after stopping. That means that a 20-minute, brisk ride burns fat for 40 minutes.

Cycling has been proven to reduce stress and depression and relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Must-haves

An exercise bike is a great machine to use for aerobic and strength training workouts. Whether you are using a bike at a gym or one that you own, there are several ways to enhance the spinning experience.

For one, having the right gear with you will make your cycling workout much easier.

Keep a bottle of water, a hand towel, and a gel bike seat cover with you for a cycling workout. It is important that you stay hydrated throughout your workout, so never workout without water on hand. It is also a good idea to drink a glass of water prior to working out for additional hydration.

Wear comfortable clothing, making sure that your pants are not too loose or else they could get caught in the bike.

Wear athletic shoes that are geared towards bicycling.

Right position

Your body positioning is important because if it is not correct, you could get injured unnecessarily.

When you stand beside the bike, the seat should line up with your hip joint.

When you sit up straight on the bike, the handlebars should be far away so that your arms are extended but your elbows are not locked.

Never slouch over the front to support yourself during a workout. You should be sitting up straight, with your shoulders back and your abdominal muscles tightened.

The middle of your foot should be planted on the pedals, and you should strap your feet in securely, but not so tight that your circulation is cut off.

As you pedal, keep your feet parallel to the floor.

Misconceptions

Many people think that cycling is only for hard-core fitness enthusiasts, but in reality exercise cycling is for everyone. It is not nearly as hard on the joints as running and many people with arthritis and knee problems can strengthen and fortify their muscles and joints with a carefully designed exercise cycling regimen. If you have trouble exercising or have other health problems, you should consult a doctor.

With renewed spirits, spinners live out life's maxim. Get fit. You can always get better. Let go. Dispel myths and obstacles that deter you from attaining your goals. And most importantly —spin. You gotta spin.

The author is Sports Performance Enhancement specialist, FitnessOne India Ltd.