The great thing about Body Magic – Slimming World’s unique activity programme – is that there’s something for everyone. Whatever your ability or fitness level, there are lots of different activities that will get you breathing heavier, your heart beating faster and your body feeling the brilliant health benefits of moving more.
Cycling is a fantastic workout for your heart and lungs and, when combined with our Food Optimising eating plan, it can give your weight loss and wellbeing a boost, too. To help you get into the biker groove, we’re cycling through the what, why, when, where and how of riding your bike…
What: Riding a bike is a great way to get fit, and can be enjoyed by almost anyone, regardless of your age, size or fitness level. Even if you’ve never tried cycling before, it’s never too late to get in the saddle. Organisations like Bikeability offer practical support to adults who want to learn how to ride a bike, or need a confidence-boosting refresher on the basics.
Top tip: It’s an ideal activity for Body Magic beginners, as it’s low impact, which means it’s kinder to your joints, and you’re free to go at your own pace, increasing your distance as your confidence and fitness grows.
Slimming World’s Greatest Loser 2020, Phil Kayes (in our main photo above), began by cycling the last five minutes of his journey to work.
He says: “Those early rides were hard going, but as I got fitter and more confident, I found myself wanting to go further. Now, I’ve bought my own bike through the Cycle2Work scheme, and I regularly ride into work from my home in Belfast.”
Why: As well as burning energy and toning your muscles, regular activity like riding a bike can help improve our immune system and reduce the risk of heart problems. Plus, adding more pedal power to your routine is a great mood-lifter and stress-buster, helping you to feel good in so many ways.
Top tip: Varying your route and including hills as you get fitter adds muscle-toning resistance into your calorie-burning aerobic exercise for an all-round workout.
When her son, AJ, was diagnosed with leukaemia, Lois Aleema took to riding around a country park near her home to relieve stress.
She says: “Those 55 minutes became my time to relax and unwind, letting go of all life’s worries. And that made me feel much stronger for whatever the next day might bring.”
Where: This is the fantastic thing about cycling – it can be done pretty much anywhere. Lots of people ride their bikes to work as a way to squeeze some activity into their commute. As well as being a great way to enjoy a socially distanced journey to work, cycling will save you money on transport and help you whizz past traffic jams! If you’re staying closer to home, a ride around your local park is a great option, or use British Cycling’s Let’s Ride to find bike-friendly trails near you.
Top tip: Fancy trying active commuting? Find out if your employer offers a Cycle2Work scheme to see if you can get money off a new bike. And remember to check the shower and changing facilities at your work – so you can start the day feeling fresh and that little bit fitter.
Jackie Lewins, who’s lost 5st 6lbs with Slimming World, got started by cycling to work three times a week.
She says: “Now I’ve got more shapely legs, I feel much fitter and healthier generally and I don’t get as out of breath as I used to.”
When: You can ride your bike at whatever time works best for you. If you’re new to cycling, it might be best to go out during daylight hours and avoid busy roads, to ensure your ride is as easy and stress-free as possible.
Top tip: If you do plan to go out at night, get kitted out with lights on the front and rear of your bike and wear reflective bands on your clothing to make sure you’re clearly visible.
Slimming World member Steve Tranmer enjoys getting active with his fiancée and children by cycling around his nearest nature reserve.
He says: “It’s hard to believe that a few years ago, I would have been stuck to the sofa all weekend. Being active has become a part of my normal life and I’m enjoying every moment.”
How: First up, you’ll need a bike! A new set of wheels could set you back £200 or more, but you can also get them cheaper second-hand, so it’s well worth having a browse through eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace for a good deal. If you do go down the second-hand route, or you already own a bike, make sure it’s safe to ride by taking it to your local bike shop for a service. Let’s Ride has some great tips on bike maintenance and how to choose the right bike for you.
It’s a good idea to plan your route before you set off so you know what to expect. When you do get going, warm up by pedalling slowly then gradually building up your speed, and stretch afterwards to loosen up any tight muscles.
Cycling is also a fun way to make new friends – or catch up with old ones. Many cycling clubs are free to join and lots get together on traffic-free routes, which is perfect if you’re just getting started. Cycling UK and Cycling Ireland can hook you up with local groups, including ones that are suitable for riders with mobility impairment.
Top tip: If you’re just getting started, it’s important to get properly geared up. Here’s everything you need to cycle safely:
- helmet – choose one with internal padding for added protection and comfort
- reflective bands – any brightly coloured clothing will help you stay visible during the day, but at night, reflective items stand out more
- bike light – a white front light and red rear light are compulsory between sunset and sunrise
- water-bottle clip – staying hydrated is important, especially in the summer heat or on longer rides
- comfy clothing – while you don’t need to spend a small fortune on the latest gear, wearing padded shorts will make your ride much more comfortable, and a warm pair of cycling gloves is a must during colder months
If you’re interested in finding out more about Body Magic and the Slimming World eating plan, Food Optimising, your local Slimming World Consultant will be happy to tell you more and to book your place in group. You might even find yourself a biking buddy!
Whether you’re a total beginner or getting back in the saddle, we’d love to see how you’re feeling the amazing benefits of cycling. Send your pedal pics to the blog or share on social using #theSlimmingWordlblog.
NHS Better Health offers for new members
When you join your local group and commit to a six-week group membership before 22nd November 2020, you’ll get six weeks for the price of five, with no joining fee to pay.
If you’d prefer to join our online-only service, Slimming World Online, we’re currently offering £20 or €25 off membership.
So there’s never been a better time to make a change and take the first steps towards Better Health. You’ll find all the info you need and an offer code here.