Bicycling has many benefits including great exercise, getting to or maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing the risk of health problems.
“Bicycling has the ability to provide a great cardiovascular workout for children and adults without strain on joints such as the knees that can occur with jogging,” said Curt Gingrich, M.D., F.A.A.F.P., executive director, medical education at Grant Medical Center, Columbus.
But, when riding a bike, everyone must protect his or her head and face by wearing a helmet that meets government standards; wearing bright, reflective clothing; using padded gloves to protect hands; and using a comfortable seat set at the correct height to reduce buttock pain and leg strain.
In addition, effective bicycle safety should include checking the brakes and making sure there are no loose or broken parts on the bike. Reflectors and lights make you and your bicycle more visible to drivers especially in the early morning hours and near dusk.
Should an injury occur, see a family physician, even if the injury seems minor.
“Most injuries are minor muscle strains and can be treated with rest, ice and proper stretching. Persistent soreness or recurrent strain may signify a more serious underlying problem that can be treated by your family physician,” Gingrich said. “Any time you are starting an exercise program after a period of inactivity, you should see your family physician to make sure your program fits your health level and will help you reach your health goals.”
Bicycling is an activity for all age groups and families. Children should learn basic traffic rules and make sure they ride in safe places. And, children younger than age 10 should not ride near traffic.
“Bicycling is a great family activity and parents should make sure they are setting a good example by following all of the traffic rules like riding on the correct side of the road and obeying traffic signs, as well as practicing good bicycle safety by wearing a helmet. Doing these things will make for a great time and help a family develop healthy habits together,” Gingrich concluded.
The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians offers these tips for bicycling safety:
Is bicycling a good exercise?
Yes, riding a bicycle is great exercise. It can help you get in shape and lose weight, and it can reduce the risk of health problems such as heart attacks. Bicycling puts less strain on your joints than jogging does, so bicycling is easier on your body.
What causes bicycle crashes?
Sometimes rider error cause crashes, and other times automobiles or loose gravel on the road are to blame. You are more likely to be seriously hurt if you run into a car or if you are riding fast. Children can be hurt while doing stunts on their bicycles.
Getting your fingers or toes caught in the spokes or pedals can also cause injuries.
What if Someone Falls Off a Bike?
If someone hits their head when falling off a bike, they should see a physician even if the injury seems minor.
What Can be Done to Avoid Injury?
The best way to protect an individual’s head and face is by wearing a helmet that meets government standards.
Wear sports sunglasses that can stop dust and bugs from getting into eyes.
Wear bright, reflective clothing when riding making it easier for drivers to see.
Use padded shorts and a comfortable seat to reduce buttock pain.
Avoid riding at night.
Always stay alert and look out for anything in the way.
Parents should teach children basic traffic rules and make sure they ride in safe places. Children younger than age 10 should not ride near traffic.
What Can be Done to Make Sure a Bike is Safe?
Get in the habit of checking that the brakes are working, and be sure there are no loose or broken parts on the bike.
Reflectors and lights make the individual and bicycle more visible to car drivers.