Save and get fit: tips for prospective bicycle commuters

Gasoline is still expensive.

Save and get fit: tips for prospective bicycle commuters

Gasoline is still expensive. So expensive that it can be tempting to switch to a bike to get to work - maybe even for the first time. But how do you get fit for it?

Many have been doing it for years, others are only flirting with it in view of the high petrol prices: cycling to work.

But how can you make the switch if you've hardly ever been on two wheels in everyday life - and you don't have steel calves and thighs for a long time?

One thing in advance: You are welcome to cast off an "all or not at all" thinking. It doesn't have to be a complete switch to cycling straight away, says Tim Böhme, consultant for coach training at the German Cyclists' Association (BDR). Even those who cycle to work two or three times a week save fuel - and do something good for their health and fitness at the same time.

Tips on how to get started:

As an untrained person, can I even cycle ten kilometers to work? Ingo Froboese, Professor for Prevention and Rehabilitation in Sport at the German Sport University in Cologne, can dispel this doubt.

"Anyone who can walk for half an hour can also cycle for half an hour," he says. That's about how long it takes to cycle ten kilometers. For starters, it is better to plan three quarters of an hour, according to the sports scientist.

Keyword time planning: In order to show up punctually at work, one should not forget the so-called "setup time", advises Tim Böhme. Because while the search for a parking space is waiting after the car ride, a bike ride ends with chaining up the vehicle, freshening up or even taking a shower. So that there is no stress, time should also be allowed for this.

A bike tour starts with good planning, as does the commute on two wheels. "Can I get to work comfortably on my bike? You should ask yourself this question in advance," says Tim Böhme.

It is also about the particular peculiarities of the route. In the morning and in the afternoon it gets crowded on many cycle paths. Böhme therefore advises choosing a route that is equipped with wide cycle paths. "One-way streets are also suitable."

The shortest route to the goal does not necessarily have to be the best. If there is a steep mountain halfway, there may be a more pleasant route - even if it is a bit longer.

In order to avoid complaints such as pain when cycling, the bike should be adapted to your own body. For example, there are the handlebars: "The grips should be ergonomic so that the pressure on the wrists, arms and shoulders can be absorbed well," says Ingo Froboese.

The dimensions of the handlebars are also important: if they are too wide, you have to use more force than necessary. On the other hand, if it's too narrow, you won't have good control of the bike.

If the bike has been sitting in the basement unused for a while, it is best to send it to the workshop for an inspection first, advises Froboese. Because many materials become porous over time - such as the rubber of the tires. This can be dangerous on the road, as can defective lights or worn brake pads. But the material of the saddle also tires over time, so that it may no longer fit your own bottom.

"Get in calmly," advises sports scientist Ingo Froboese here. "If you don't get out of breath, you're doing it right." The recommendation: understand cycling as an endurance unit, not as a strength unit.

Because: If a lot of muscle power is used, it means a lot of pressure on the joints. And they have to get used to the new strain first.

What does that mean specifically? It's better to shift down a gear - literally. According to Ingo Froböse, a pedaling frequency of 60 to 80 revolutions per minute is ideal. There is only one thing that helps to get a feeling for this: counting.

Not everyone feels like throwing on a pair of cycling shorts or a functional shirt just to get to work. But it's worth thinking about the right clothing in advance: "You're much more flexible in stretch clothes," says Tim Böhme from the BDR. Stiff jackets that pull up on the back when cycling are much more annoying.

"Many make the mistake of dressing too warmly," said Ingo Froboese. Because: When cycling, the body warms up - which is why you can often save a layer of clothing. "If you shiver a little for the first five minutes on the bike, that's not bad at all."

A windbreaker protects you from cooling down due to headwind. "It's light and fits in every pocket," says Froboese. And: it can easily be slipped on or off when you're out and about.

The footwear also needs to be well chosen: some pedals have spikes that can painfully dig into soft shoe soles. When in doubt, pack a second pair of shoes for work in your bag. And: a t-shirt to change into can be worth its weight in gold if you arrive a bit sweaty.

Even if petrol prices are currently making it easier to switch to a bike, motivation may dwindle again after a while.

Bicycle expert Tim Böhme then advises to take a very specific look at the advantages of cycling. If you want to lose a few pounds, for example, the calorie consumption of cycling can be an incentive. On a half-hour tour, you can certainly burn 400 calories. Quite apart from that, cycling is good for the body on many levels, says Ingo Froboese. Not only blood circulation, immune system and mental performance improve.

Stamina also improves: "After four weeks you can already expect positive effects - for example when you notice that you don't have to pant as much when climbing stairs at work."

Anyone who notices that their well-being increases as a result of switching to cycling is more likely to stay tuned. Maybe even when petrol prices go down again.

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