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Healthy You

The Games: Cycling - A Great Overall Body Workout

Tuesday, August 03, 2021 9:39 AM

Mark Bowen, MD
Orthopaedic Surgeon, NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute 

Mark Bowen

Sport: Played football and rugby in high school and college, and now is a golfer and avid cyclist.

Fun Fact: Dr. Bowen received the book Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die as a gift. He and his wife, Margot, are working their way through the list, cycling through beautiful countries around the world.

Watching Plans: Dr. Bowen plans to watch plenty of highlights and was interested in seeing U.S. gymnastics star Simone Biles. “She is truly exceptional,” he said.

Easier on the Joints: A serious runner for many years who completed three marathons, Dr. Bowen started to find running increasingly difficult on his body. His evolution from runner to cyclist was gradual, but he is now a devoted rider. “It’s a very big part of my exercise regimen,” said Dr. Bowen. Now, it’s turned into much more as he and Margot have taken countless cycling vacations, seeing Spain, France, Italy, Canada and more from two wheels.

“Biking opens up the world to you and offers a whole new perspective. It’s a real respite even while exercising,” Dr. Bowen said. “I’ve had some near-religious moments experiencing the most beautiful spots in the world on a bicycle.”

But it’s not all about travel. He encourages his patients and anyone looking to find a new way to exercise to find a local bike path or quiet route in their neighborhood. “Cycling is a great overall body workout, working the core and legs and giving you the chance to get your heart rate up while also being stress-relieving,” he added.

The longer Dr. Bowen has been in practice the more he encourages patients to consider healthy aging and exercises that are easier on the body and don’t present the same kinds of overuse injury risks that sports like running can cause.

Cycling can be a great social outlet too as it’s an easy activity to do with friends. If you are new to riding, find a reputable bike shop to ensure a proper fit on a new bike. It’s not necessary to spend a ton of money on a high-end bike to enjoy cycling or get a great workout.

It’s important to be a comfortable, confident rider before trying to ride clipped in with cycling shoes with cleats that are attached or clipped on pedals, Dr. Bowen said.

Spin classes or at-home spin bikes with virtual classes can also be a great exercise option, especially when the weather is not conducive to an outdoor ride.