on May 31, 2019 10:46:01 AM

Healthy Living: Bike for Better Health

Iowa is known for its great system of bike trails, criss-crossing from town to town across the state. Of course, many know about RAGBRAI, the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, but biking can be for everyone at every level - not just for speedy professionals. 

Bicycling is a great choice of exercise because of the plentiful benefits on your overall health and cardiovascular system. It provides a fun way to lower risk of ailments like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, hypertension, as well as managing your weight while sight seeing Iowa's landscape. A major reason people decide to take up this sport over many other activities is the low impact it has on joints and other parts of the body. This is also an activity that can be done solo, with a group of friends or family members (some who may just be learning how to ride). 

Along with the many physical benefits bicycling has to offer, riding a bike can also help in dealing with and reducing stress, depression, and anxiety. Besides the endorphins that are released during exercise to counter these psychological ailments, biking can be a form of meditation. Of Iowa's trails, many are tucked along scenic byways and routes that are not readily accessible by foot or car. Due to the rhythmic nature of pedaling a bicycle, it can create a type of trance meditation, much like the phenomenon of arriving to your destination in a car without any real recollection of driving your route.

Scientists have concluded that the more you ride a bicycle, the better your balance and motor control will become. This can be incredibly beneficial to stroke victims who are trying to get their balancing skills back.

If biking is something you're just starting to explore, there are many resources that may help you in choosing where to go and even who to go with on the trails. Bike Iowa hosts trail rides on various nights of the week as well as route reviews and insights to local riders. 

Nearly anyone can ride, regardless of skill or fitness level. All you need is two wheels and a desire to feel better. Start small, basic, and push yourself when you are comfortable. And be sure to check out all the great bike trails with this map from the Iowa DOT.