Guess what? May is National Bike Month. Established in 1956 and sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, this month celebrates all that cycling has to offer. Cycling is fun, it's great exercise, and it's something you can do alone or with family and friends.
Here are some tips to keep in mind regarding cycling in general and National Bike Month in particular.
1. Protect your noggin.
If you're a certain age (hint: over 40), you probably remember riding without a helmet when you were a kid. But we've come a long way since then, haven't we? In other words, don't cite the fact you survived childhood as a reason not to wear a helmet.
Studies show that helmets can save you from serious brain injuries. According to The Center for Head Injury Services, "About 75% of all bicyclists who die each year die of head injuries." The good news? "85% of head injuries in bicycle accidents can be prevented by wearing a helmet." Keep in mind that it's not enough to simply wear any helmet. It's all about the proper fit.
2. Not all bikes are created equal.
Just as you need the right helmet, you need to find a bike that's the right fit for you. For example, where you do most of your biking (e.g. on pavement, dirt trails, or a combination) will influence the type of bike you get. Here's a good primer on choosing bikes.
3. Follow the rules of the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a list of bike safety tips, including traveling in the same direction as traffic, making sure you and your bike are easy to see, and obeying all traffic laws and signs.
4. Get co-workers involved.
Cycling makes a perfect addition to any executive wellness plan or workplace wellness program. One of the many events National Bike Month offers is Bike to Work Week (May 11 – 15) and Bike to Work Day (May 15). What better way to motivate your colleagues than by participating in a real event celebrated across the country?
5. Revel in all those calories you burn.
Cycling is a great way to burn calories. Calculate calories burned based on your pace, weight, and time. Here's a handy calculator to help.
6. Worried about cars? Discover bike trails in your area.
More and more states are converting "rails to trails" for things like cycling (and more). A great resource is Trail Link. You can filter by state and find plenty of trails free of cars near you.
7. Don't want to bike solo? No problem.
Join a cycling club or investigate local meetup groups. It's a great way to meet people and stay motivated.
8. Have fun.
If you haven't been on a bike in years, fear not—the adage is true: riding a bike is a skill you never forget. Don't worry if you're a little wobbly at first or if you're not quite ready to tackle big hills. Like anything else, you'll get better each time you ride.
Are you a cyclist? Share your own expert tips and suggestions in the comments below.
For more to help you get healthy where you work, check out our free guide to workplace wellness.