On your bike!

On your bike! Susan Thompson's story

Most people know that cycling is good for your health and for the planet. However, the benefits extend far beyond a trimmer waistline and a smaller carbon footprint.

Susan Thompson, 56, from Ashington joined Active Northumberland to train for a cycle challenge of her own.

She said: “I became a member of the centre because I had signed up for a charity cycle ride in India. The challenge was a 450 kilometre cycle ride over five days in the golden triangle area of Rajasthan.

“The challenge was really tough. The road conditions were bad, with potholes and uneven surfaces. The heat played a major part in it, and the traffic was really busy. It was an amazing experience and I’ve made new friends. The bonus was raising over £2000 for Marie Curie.

“I am so pleased I became a member of the centre because doing all the classes - going swimming, spinning, the gym - really gave me the ability to complete the cycle challenge.

“I signed up for the six week weight loss and fitness challenge at the centre and I’m also in training to complete my tenth Great North Run in September. Who knows, I might sign up for another charity cycle ride.

“Being a member of Active Northumberland means I can use any of the sites in Northumberland, so I’ve been able to try things such as Powerhoop, Pound, and I even tried a Metafit class.

“I love being a member of the centre because nobody judges you at all. Any classes you try, there are different abilities in all of the classes. The instructors are really friendly, they give you advice, and all the other members give you advice.”

Cycling to a fitter you

Here is Active Northumberland’s run down of some of the benefits of getting on your bike.

1. Family fun in the sun

Cycling is a great way to spend some quality time with the whole family as it’s suitable for all ages. Not only that, by most of us fail to fully explore the area we live in, so you don’t have to travel far to have a mini adventure on two wheels. You might be surprised by what new things are waiting to be discovered right on your doorstep.

2. A low impact workout that still gets results

Whilst a sport like running has the potential to take its toll on the body. Cycling engages the muscles in the legs without as much force coming down on the knees. It is therefore much easier on your legs, ankles, knees and feet than running, as it gets you moving and your heart pumping without pounding your joints.

If you’re not willing to brave the elements, but still want to reap the benefits, a fitness class like spinning could be the answer. Spinning is fat-burning exercise that works all of the major muscle groups. Active Northumberland offer a range of indoor cycling activities. Spin classes run for 30 or 45 minutes and you can control the intensity of your workout to match your fitness level.

3. Save money

Getting hold of a bike may seem like a costly initial layout, but when compared to the cost of a car plus insurance, MOT, petrol and parking, cyclists will soon start to save. Getting into the habit of cycling for your daily commute could save you nearly £285 a year on petrol and other transport costs, according to cycle-to-work provider Cyclescheme. One money saving blogger claimed that cycling actually saved him £3,400 in one year.

4. Escape the rat race

Instead of sitting slouched in front of the steering wheel cursing the rush hour traffic, biking to work means you can freewheel your way to the office in no time. Not only that, but it’s a great way to fit some daily exercise into a busy schedule. Efficient multi-tasking at its best.

Working in partnership with Northumberland County Council, the ‘Go Smarter’ programme provides a number of options to encourage you to use your bike, whether you want to learn how to ride a bike, get back on your bike, or build your cycling confidence on the road. If you live or work in Northumberland you can access free cycle skills and confidence training, cycle servicing from Dr Bike and a cycle loan scheme.

5. Reduce stress

Most scientific research generally supports the idea that exercise helps to ease stress. According to a New Economics Foundation study in the US, bicycle commuters have reported lower stress levels than their counterparts using cars and public transport.

If you don’t want to cycle on the road, MyRide is a state-of-the-art facility at Ashington Leisure Centre and Concordia in Cramlington. The purpose-built, theatre-style cycling studios feature on-screen coaches and jaw-dropping scenery as you ride to world class instruction in high-energy fitness classes. Using advanced technology, you’ll burn calories and work towards achieving your fitness goals.

6. Sleep better

An early morning ride might tire you out in the short term, but it’ll help you catch some quality sleep when your head hits the pillow, according to research. Stanford University researchers asked a group of sedentary insomnia sufferers to cycle for 20-30 minutes every other day. The study found that cycling reduced the time required for the insomniacs to fall asleep by half, and sleep time increased by almost an hour.

If you’re short on time but still want to give cycling a go, Active Northumberland’s Express Studio Cycle classes give you all of the health benefits from an indoor cycling session in just 35 minutes or less. The instructor-led studio classes use a static bike to work through a structured, high-energy cycling workout.

17 May 2017