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22/Jul/2018

Tips for getting back on your bike

The Tour de France is on again. And there’s nothing like watching great athletes race through the French countryside – past beautiful chateaus, idyllic villages and madly cheering fans. If you’re like me, it’s enough to make you drag your bike out of the shed, dust the cobwebs off and hit the road. Literally.

One spin around my small suburban street and I crashed.

It seems my ability to ride a bike, like most things you don’t do on a regular basis, has disappeared. Along with my ability to roller skate, climb trees and bounce out of bed fresh as a daisy after a late night out.

But the saying “it’s as easy as riding a bike” must exist for a reason, right? So I persevered, and while I’m still a little wobbly, and hills are a challenge, I’m doing it!

So here are my tips for getting back on your bike after years away.

  1. Get a bike – obviously tip number 1 for riding a bike is to get one.
    • If you’re buying a new bike, get advice from people you know who ride regularly. Find a good bike shop and talk with the staff. Check out the Choice guide to help you know what to look for.
    • Borrow a bike from a friend or neighbour. That way you can give cycling a go before you spend any money on a new bike.
    • If you already have a bike, go over it to make sure it’s in good condition. If you’re not sure what you need to do, enrol in a basic bike maintenance course. Just Google it, and you’ll find places that run these courses in your area.
  2. Make sure your bike is fitted with all the necessary bits and pieces you’ll need. Much of this will depend where/when you plan to ride, so seek advice from other cyclists or from the bike shop. But some of the things you may need include: comfortable seat, light, bell, basket/rack, water holder, lock, pump.
  3. Find the perfect outfit for you – this doesn’t need to expensive, but does need to be comfortable, brightly coloured so others can see you, made out of fabric that breathes, and if you’re riding at night or when it’s getting dark, reflective. Oh, and padding in bike shorts can help protect you from some unpleasant pain in sensitive areas! You’ll also need a good helmet that fits you properly. Remember it’s compulsory in Australia to wear an approved helmet when riding a bike.
  4. Where to ride – this is an important one. You’re more likely to ride more regularly if you feel safe and you’re in a pleasant environment. So depending on where you live, riding around your local streets may not be the best option. Taking your bike to a park or local bike trails may be the best way for you to build your confidence. Make sure the paths are easy to navigate, wide enough for you and others to get by, not too steep (at least while you’re relearning to ride) and have places where you can stop for a breather, have a drink and enjoy the surrounds.
  5. Grab the family and friends – exercising is often more fun when you do it with others. And riding a bike is a great activity for people of all ages and levels of fitness.
  6. Start small. It’s easy to get swept up in the ride – the nature around you, the hypnotic effect of turning the wheels around and around, the wind in your face – and then you realise you have to cycle back to where you started. So be aware of the distance you travel. Starting small also gives you the time and space to relearn riding your bike – how the brakes work, the gears, steering, not crashing!
  7. Drink water. You’re exercising, so you’ll be sweating and losing fluid. Take regular breaks to rehydrate.
  8. Check out the networks – both formal e.g. Bicycle Network and local, informal cycling groups. You’ll get information, support and advice, and you’ll meet new people.
  9. Enjoy yourself! Cycling is a really enjoyable activity – so get out there, check out the countryside and have fun.

More to explore

  • Your local council website for cycling groups, paths and other resources
  • Your state/territory government parks websites for information on riding safely in parks, maps and much more.

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26/May/2018

And that’s just what they’ll do

Walking is a great way to exercise. It costs nothing, it’s suitable for most people, and it gets you out and about.

I love walking. I take a quick walk around the block during the day if I can manage it, but I always make sure I get out after I get home from work. I find it’s a fantastic way to relax after a long day at work.

For me the important thing is to get changed and put my walking shoes on as soon as I get home. If I sit down, or get distracted by others, the opportunity disappears.

I grab my MP3 player, put on a podcast or music, and head out. The fresh air, the exercise, and listening to something interesting is a great mood booster.

On the weekend I like to explore new areas, so I hop in the car, pick up a friend, and we walk in a park, the bush, in the CBD, at the beach. This keeps my walks interesting, and I also have the benefit of discovering new places.

If you don’t exercise much, walking might be a good way for you to build up your activity levels – though be sure to talk with your doctor first to get the all-clear. Then start slow.

Try walking 30 minutes a day on most days of the week and you’ll really notice the health benefits. It can help you lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight, it can lift your mood, help you get a good night’s sleep, improve your bone and joint health and increase heart and lung fitness.

If you can’t walk 30 minutes at a time, break the walking up over your day. Three 10 minute walks, six 5 minute walks…it all adds up.

Walking tips

  • Wear comfortable, appropriate clothing and shoes.
  • Warm up and cool down to prevent injuries or pain.
  • Make it social – walk with a friend, your family, kids, the dog.
  • Listen to music, audio books, podcasts.
  • Make it a part of your regular routine – go at the same time each day – e.g. after/before work, after lunch.
  • Explore new places to walk.
  • Take a water bottle – it can be thirsty work!
  • Track your walking with a pedometer or fitness activity tracker.
  • Increase the distance of your walks and intensity of your walks over time.
  • Take your walk inside if it’s raining or a hot day – walk in a shopping centre, around the office, around your house.
  • Join a walking or bushwalking group.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your walking shoes and get out there!


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25/Sep/2017

There’s nothing like this time of the year. It’s getting lighter and brighter. The weather is warming up and you can almost smell spring in the air! You just want to get out and about.

If your exercise routine has been hibernating over winter, spring is the perfect time to brush it off, get back into the swing of things, and get moving. It’s also a great time to add something new to your exercise regime.

Take a hike – walking is a great exercise that’s suitable for most people. You can adapt it to your specific needs and interests – e.g. a walk through your neighbourhood, Nordic walking (using special poles and technique that work your upper body), or walking in the bush and enjoying the smells and sights around you. If you find it difficult to find time to exercise, try breaking your walks up into smaller increments. If you can start with a 10 minute walk a few times during the day, it all adds up, and before you know it you’ve done 30 minutes of walking by the end of your day! Make sure you wear comfortable clothing and appropriate shoes for walking.

Makes some waves in the water – water exercise is a gentle, soothing form of exercise. The water supports your body and the resistance provided by moving through water boosts muscle strength and endurance. The types of water exercise you can choose include: hydrotherapy (offered by physios as one-on-one sessions for individuals or in small groups), gentle water exercise classes at your local fitness or recreation centres or swimming laps at your local pool.

Try tai chi – it’s a low-impact, slow-motion exercise, with gentle movements. When doing tai chi, your muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, and your joints are not fully extended or bent. You can learn tai chi from books and DVDs, however most people find it easier to learn from a qualified instructor. Books and DVDs are useful to help you practise between classes.

Hit the dance floor – dancing is a fun, social form of exercise. It’s also a great way to meet new people. There are so many different styles of dancing you can try, from Latin to hip hop to ballroom to belly dancing to just shaking it all about your lounge room when a great song comes on the radio! Make sure you’re wearing shoes that are appropriate for the style of dancing you’re doing, start slowly, learn good technique and have a wonderful time!

Get on your bike – and get your blood pumping. Riding a bike can give you a good cardio workout, which’ll help improve the health of your heart and lungs (cardiovascular system). Cycling can also help improve your stamina, manage your weight and reduce your risk of developing other health problems (e.g. diabetes).

Practise Pilates – the slow, controlled movements of Pilates can help you improve your flexibility and strength. Ensure you see a qualified instructor who can teach you how to perform each exercise correctly and safely.

The important thing when you’re looking to start exercising or reinvigorate an exercise program is to find something you enjoy doing. You’re more likely to continue doing it, and reap all the health and social benefits that come from regular exercise. Exercise with your friends, join a team and just get out and move. And don’t forget to keep your doctor informed about what you’re doing.




Musculoskeletal Australia (or MSK) is the consumer organisation working with, and advocating on behalf of, people with arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, gout and over 150 other musculoskeletal conditions.

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