The fresh air on your face, the feeling of freedom and the euphoria that a little exercise brings. What can be better than enjoying a bike ride in South Florida?
Do it safely – that’s what will make it even better. Most cyclists don’t have to wear masks, according to new guidelines updated by US health officials, and that means even more bikes will be sharing the roads with motor vehicles in the coming weeks.
Although there were far fewer cars on the road through most of the pandemic, the number of cycling accidents and injuries nationwide remained fairly stable, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Why was there no proportional reduction? It may be because in the face of the public health crisis, more people than ever started riding bikes to stay fit and get outdoors.
“Cycling is a great option,” said Baptist Health Primary Care MD Kamalit Kaur, MD, who works at Baptist Health’s new health and wellness complex in Plantation. “It can vary in intensity, making it suitable for all ages and all levels. If you are looking for a more intense exercise, you can also do it on a bicycle. But it is also a great family activity. Even grandparents and grandchildren can enjoy a bike ride together. ”
For those who want to avoid stress on the joints, cycling also offers a good option. And not only is it beneficial for the lower body, it also strengthens the back and abdominal muscles. Keeping your body upright and keeping the bike in position requires some strength in your core muscles. As you stabilize your body and keep your bike upright, your balance, coordination, and overall posture will improve. Meanwhile, the continuous effort of pedaling offers benefits for your heart and cardiovascular system.
“It’s a low-impact exercise that offers a wealth of benefits,” says physical therapist and cyclist Peter Smith, administrative director of rehabilitation services for Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute.
The doctors and therapists at Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute know the benefits of cycling very well, but they also know its risks. They have seen cycling injuries ranging from strains and strains to fractures and life-threatening injuries caused in car collisions.
Even a small fall on a bicycle can cause a serious injury, so stay safe and enjoy the ride by taking the following steps:
Use your head
Every rider, novice or competitive, has to wear a helmet – even adults. “That could save their lives,” says Dr. Kaur. To fit properly, the helmet must touch your entire head, all around you, and stay in place during a sudden movement or impact. It should be as low on your head as possible and held in place by a tight strap. Try a few models and sizes until you find the helmet that fits you the best and most comfortable. For children, never buy a bigger helmet thinking that your child is growing up. Because sweat can wear down the pads and plastic parts of the helmet, replace it every couple of years. And always replace your helmet after a bump or impact, even if it doesn’t appear to be damaged.
Ignore the low maintenance myth
If you haven’t ridden in a while, don’t take your old bike out of the garage and ride. Your bicycle must be properly maintained and in good condition. The handlebars should be firmly in place and should be able to turn easily. Your wheels must be straight and secure. Check your tires to make sure they are properly inflated and undamaged. Test the brakes before riding. If they don’t brake properly, they may need to be adjusted. Inspect the chain and test the gears. They must be clean and properly lubricated. A visit to the local bike shop for professional assistance may be necessary.
Find your size
Make sure your bike is the correct size and fit. “This will prevent you from developing chronic injuries due to poor riding posture,” says Mr. Smith. Incorrectly sized bikes can lead to back pain, wrist pain, fatigue, and an increased risk for accidents. The bike itself should be tailored to your abilities, your level, and the type of cycling in which you wish to participate. For example, road or tour bikes are designed for riding on pavement, while mountaineering or hiking bikes are designed for off-road use. If your bike is the wrong size or type, you can fall into bad habits such as lowering your head, rounding your back, and not using your knees properly when pedaling. The more comfortable you are on the bike, the more efficient you will be, and the more likely you are to ride more often.
Get to know yourself
Cycling can be a vigorous activity. Pushing yourself further than you should can cause fatigue and injury. “We see patients who are very excited and try to ride long distances before they are ready,” said Mr. Smith. You may be taking part in a charity walk or riding with a group of friends and you may underestimate the stamina you need, especially in hot weather. “You must know your limits well.” Wear a sunscreen and carry water with you to stay hydrated, “advises Dr. Kaur,” And save some energy for the return trip. “
Go with the flow
Obey traffic laws by following all traffic signs and lane markers. Ride in the same direction as motor vehicles. Pedal predictably, forward, and stay clear of cars. Always stay aware of vehicles, pedestrians, and other cyclists on the road and do not make sudden or unexpected movements. Know the laws of the road including hand signals that help alert other vehicles of your intentions. Pay attention to potholes, cracks, expansion joints, railroads, wet leaves, drain grates, or anything else that could cause you to fall.
See and be seen
It doesn’t matter if you’re riding in the sun or under cloudy skies, stay visible to others. Use bright, phosphorescent, or neon colors and use reflective citation or markers and flashing lights. Also, your bike should have reflectors on the wheels and in other visible areas. Avoid riding at dawn or in the dark.
Look and listen (But don’t listen to music)
There are many potential dangers in South Florida. It may be tempting to play your favorite music, but you shouldn’t wear headphones when riding. You have to be able to hear traffic and other sounds. “Biking is not the time for distractions,” says Mr. Smith. “Cyclists must be focused at all times.”