In today's fitness market, there are any number of workout options. Many people choose to purchase a membership at a local gym or fitness club. Other people decide that running is the way they want to get healthier. Some people prefer swimming, walking, hiking, etc. There are plenty of options for people looking for exercise.
One popular option is bicycling. Bicycling is less stressful on the joints than running and more convenient than dashing off to the gym. Most people already have a bike so it's cheap to get into, and even if you don't have a bike, the investment is well worth it. Which do you think you're more likely to waste, a gym membership or a bike? At least you can loan out your bike or sell it if you don't want it.
So you've decided that you're going to get into biking as a way to improve your health. The first thing you need to do is get a bike. If you already have one that you feel is suitable, then feel free to skip this paragraph. For those of you looking to buy a new bike, your options can be narrowed down to a few basic choices.
First of all, how serious are you about bicycling? If you really intend to do some serious riding then you need to look at the more expensive, elite bicycles. The bikes carry higher price tags because of their decreased weight and increased features. They use space age materials such as carbon fiber and advanced designs. For most people a decent mid-grade bike will do. These bikes will have some of the features of more expensive bikes but without all the bells and whistles that a normal rider can do without. These bikes utilize reliable steel (or chrome-moly) frames and good shifters and solid brakes.
If you just want some kind of cheap ride to get around town, there are plenty of low-cost bikes out there, but you'll end up with a heavier bike that's more prone to falling apart. Such bikes should be fine for the short-term, but you'll probably have to replace it sooner than you'd like, especially if you use it a lot.
Another question you need to ask yourself is where you'll be riding the bike. Are you going to be mostly riding on sidewalks and roads, or will you be taking it on trails and rugged terrain? As you may've guessed, there are bikes designed specifically for the road and ones made for taking off-road.
Road bikes are light and fast and off-road bikes, popularly known as mountain bikes, are more rugged and often feature ride-softening suspension systems for the front and back wheels. There are also hybrid bikes designed to be taken pretty much anywhere.
After your bike, the next most important purchase you make will be safety gear. A good helmet is of the utmost importance. Many riders shun helmets but the smart rider knows how important they are. Nobody can predict an accident, and even the best riders have their bad moments so a good helmet is an extremely wise investment.
You may also want to look into gloves and possible knee and elbow pads if you're going to be doing some serious mountain biking. Also a pair of shoes with a good sole is important. A safety item many riders forget about is a light. You should do everything you can to make yourself visible to drivers. Good front and rear lights are mandatory if you're going to be riding in low-light conditions or at night. You may also want to consider clothing with reflective strips to make yourself more visible to drivers.
When it comes to the workout itself, remember the basics which apply to any kind of exercise. Eat properly. Drink plenty of water and sports drinks. Warm up before you take off on your bike. Do some stretches, and don't forget to stretch afterwards. You won't believe how much it'll cut down on your soreness if you stretch after your bike ride. Bicycling is a great, fun way to get into shape. It works almost every muscle in your body and builds up your cardiovascular health.