Cycle into summer!
The beautiful weather is here at last (at least it was at the time of writing!) and to me there’s nothing more relaxing than getting on the bike and exploring some of the many beautiful cycle paths around Lincolnshire. You don’t have to be peddling on busy roads if you’re in the city; one of my favourite routes is a cycle down to Boultham Park, and then along the cycle route to Whisby Nature Park, with gorgeous Hartsholme Park nearby too of course.
On a hot summer’s day I like to go early in the morning, to enjoy the sounds of the birds and take in the surroundings, before the wider world wakes up. I’ve even seen a few young deer lately too.
Depending on what you want to achieve and your fitness levels, cycling can be taken at any pace or distance. I like to cycle alone as it gives me quality thinking time, but cycling in a small group is great too, especially if you need the motivation (although my motivation is finding the next coffee shop!).
The health benefits of regular cycling are huge. Not only are you getting lovely legs from increased muscle tone and definition, but your cardiovascular fitness will improve too, together with reducing body fat levels, improving joint mobility and flexibility, posture and coordination, but most importantly managing stress levels and focusing the mind, which is so important for our mental well-being.
Even having your bike in the boot of the car and taking it out to cycle a short distance (like along the seafront, or in a small town) is still very beneficial. Even a small amount of exercise can improve our immune system, by increasing the production of essential proteins and waking up the lazy white blood cells.
A simple warm-up is a must and will loosen the muscles allowing better blood flow and muscle activity, preventing strains and pulls.
Pre and Post-cycle Stretches:
Thoracic Mobility Stretch
This can be done standing or kneeling. Raise your arms above your head, until your elbows are parallel to your ears, keeping the neck in a nice neutral position.
A side reach will stretch and strengthen the intercostal muscles between the ribs; this can be done with both hands raised, or by doing one at a time.
Shoulder and Bicep Stretch
Holding your hands together behind your back, while keeping you core nice and straight, raise your clasped hands away from the body behind you, feeling that good stretch. This is great to do before and especially after your cycle ride and helps relieve any aching.
Updog Lumbar Mobilisation Stretch
Lying face down, place your palms flat on the floor next to your ribs. Press down firmly onto your palms, straightening your arms and lifting your hips, torso and the tops of your thighs away from the floor. Hold for a few breaths before lowering back down. This is great for budding cyclists, as your back is in the hunched position while cycling.
Hip Flexor/Quad Stretch
Go into a kneeling lunge, so that your front leg is at a 90° angle and your rear leg is angled forward. You can add in a side rotation to work your core too. Hold for a few breaths and then swap sides.
This one can be done in a number of ways, but standing upright with your leg raised on a wall or bench is a good idea, and gives you great control. Depending on your flexibility, you can lean in and gently bring those toes towards your core for a bigger stretch.
Ian Eassom is a Lincoln-based mobile personal trainer. Ian can offer private online one-to-one sessions, with bespoke exercise and diet plans to suit you. Ian can also offer individual training sessions in your own garden or public space, subject to and in adherence with the latest Covid guidance and with social distancing in place. Don’t forget there’s a special offer for Lincolnshire Life readers! For the latest information, visit www.ianeassom.co.uk