Trendy exercise for ladies: Simple joy of riding your bike!

This was my Christmas present from Michael -- a pink Schwinn cruiser. The seat is big and padded so it doesn't hurt your bottom. And I love the basket except that the pink is wrong. So I might paint it white. I think it's super cute and ranks right up there with my pink Huffy Rose bike from grade school. I just wish the helmet wasn't so necessary!

This was my Christmas present from Michael -- a pink Schwinn cruiser. The seat is big and padded so it doesn't hurt your bottom. And I love the basket except that the pink is wrong. So I might paint it white. I think it's super cute and ranks right up there with my pink Huffy Rose bike from grade school. I just wish the helmet wasn't so necessary!

Pilates is passé and spinning is such a bore. The new big exercise for women: the joie de vivre of feeling the wind in your hair as you coast down a hill on your bicycle!

Women’s Health Magazine reports a jump in cycling clubs for women and a renewed interest in taking a bike out for a spin.

From Women’s Health Magazine:

“Today, many women are rekindling that childhood love by pedaling to work, competing in races, or just tooling around town. They’re finding that biking isn’t just a welcome break from mind-numbing elliptical sessions: It’s a surefire way to slim down and tone your tush–and look smokin’ in those spandex shorts.”

” ‘In the past five years, an unprecedented number of women’s cycling clubs have cropped up throughout the country,’ says Rachael Lambert, women’s product and marketing manager at Specialized Bicycle Components in Morgan Hill, California. Part of that surge may be due to a sour economy (a bike is cheaper than a car or a gym membership). Another factor is the popularity of triathlons: Women’s participation has soared 700 percent (no, that’s not a misprint!) in the past 10 years. Toss in the fact that biking is one of the most efficient and effective workouts–both on the open road and in a class–and it’s easy to see why this fitness staple is gaining speed.”

So what can cycling do for you?

“Cycling is no doubt good for your body, says Anne Lusk, Ph.D., a research associate at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. She studied more than 18,000 women over a period of 16 years and found that those who biked as few as five minutes a day gained less weight than those who didn’t ride. That’s because even a casual ride delivers a one-two punch of cardio and muscle strengthening. A 135-pound woman can blast nearly 500 calories in an hour of cycling at a comfortable clip. And each pedal stroke works your entire lower body and your core, sculpting a tight body.”

Cycling also can improve your mood and energy level. Surveys in the Netherlands found a huge amount of joy from riding. Even 10 minutes indoors can make a difference in your spirits, reports Lusk.

It’s funny because I have hopped on board this trend without even knowing it. I have wanted a bike since we moved here. Everyone rides bikes around here – to school, to work, for exercise. The city has sidewalks everywhere, some bike trails and a bunch of bike lanes.

I asked for a pink Schwinn cruiser for Christmas. You know one of the old-fashioned looking bikes. It has a big padded seat and you sit upright instead of all bent over. It also has a big basket on the front, which I adore.

So now I am enjoying getting out and going places on my bike. Although I am little scared about getting hit by a car. I am wearing a helmet although it looks hideous. A childhood friend advises that I should buy an orange vest and riding lights for the front and back of the bike for safety. He also advised to make eye contact with drivers before crossing a street even if you have the light. A car turning almost hit me. The driver totally wasn’t paying attention.

You are definitely not watching the clock while you ride a bike. I rode 10 miles the other day and just enjoyed being outside and the sensation of flying along. My goal is to get the whole family biking — only bad thing is both big kids have grown out of their bikes!

Have you noticed this bike-riding trend for ladies? Are you participating? Do you enjoy riding bikes? Would you prefer to ride outside or do a spin class? Would the research in the Women’s Health article encourage you to start riding? Would you worry about breaking a bone or getting hit by a car?

48 comments Add your comment

Editor

January 11th, 2012
7:22 am

Hmmm — “Even 10 minutes indoors can make a difference in your spirits, reports Lusk.” INDOORS? You actually cycle indoors?
“…I road 10 miles…” Or, perhaps you “RODE” on the road…
“only bad think is both big kids” — Perhaps, “only bad THING is both big kids…”
“Would you prefer to ride outside or so a spin class” What, exactly, is “so a spin class” – I’m unfamilar with that term.

I know this is just a blog but, geez, has proof-reading become extinct?

Won't work...

January 11th, 2012
8:12 am

…too many cell phones plastered to the “bike moms” ears will mean too many deaths and then more lawsuits against the bike manufacturers for not warning about riding their bikes while talking on a cell phone…

And, lighten up Editor, if you were a regular would know that Theresa has already explained that she uses her cell phone to do some of these topics and does not always have time to edit what she typed, especially when typing while riding her bike…

Reader

January 11th, 2012
8:23 am

@Editor, yes, apparently proofreading has become extinct. Not just in the blogs, but throughout the paper. Thoughtful reading has become a challenge. But wouldn’t it be fun if there was a “red pen” app, where we could circle all the errors?!

Winnie

January 11th, 2012
8:28 am

I’ve been taking an indoor ride class for about 7 months. This weekend I was at Callaway for a meeting and stuck my daughter’s bike in the car – which I rode for 40 min before heading home. It was fun and I’d like to do it more.

Check out roadid.com. They make a nice, inexpensive ID tag you can attach to your shoe. My family all rides and runs, so I got one for everyone for Christmas.

Jeff

January 11th, 2012
8:34 am

Another “trend” to just suck more money from women. What happened to those shoes last year that were just going to shape your lower body just by walking? Did you buy them? Did they work?

Here’s an idea! You already KNOW how to work out. Just go do it and stop spending extra money on trends.

mystery poster

January 11th, 2012
8:37 am

@editor
ha, ha. when my cousin told me years ago that she had taken up spinning, I thought she was talking about yarn.

mystery poster

January 11th, 2012
8:39 am

As a side note, when you ride your bike you need to make sure to exert enough energy to get your heartrate up.

Although cruising along slowly and enjoying the scenery will do wonders for the soul, it will not burn off enough calories to speak of.

Techmom

January 11th, 2012
9:02 am

We took up cycling as a family last year and love it. We don’t just cruise around town though – there are no bike trails or lanes where we are; we ride usually 18-22 miles 3 days a week. There are two cycling clubs near us so we usually ride with a group. I do like the spin class at the gym OK but I like to be outside on my own bike more. Of course it’s a bit more difficult in the winter so I’m looking forward to the warm weather again.

Me

January 11th, 2012
9:10 am

@Editor — While I understand your point, this is just a (mostly) fun blog dealing with everyday life. I don’t recall seeing you here previously so maybe you’re passing through and just happened to have time to read a blog for, apparently, the sole purpose of finding fault. Whatever.
On topic, I don’t ride and, if I so chose, would do so within our sub-division where I wouldn’t feel it necessary to wear a helmet. While growing up, bike riding wasn’t a trend (at least it wasn’t defined as such) it was just our primary means of transport – and it was more fun than walking. I’m not even sure they made bike helmets back then but I probably wouldn’t have worn it. (Sure hope I proofed this prior to hitting the submit button!!) :)

JOD

January 11th, 2012
9:19 am

DD is starting to show interest in her bike, so I have been thinking it might be fun to do together at the park. We don’t have much of a neighborhood, and I would be too scared to ride on the road (no shoulder, much less a bike lane), so we would probably always drive somewhere, then ride, which seems kind of lame.

Too funny how tastes differ – I think I’m a girly girl, but I loathe and abominate those cruiser bikes. I would probably get a mountain bike or a street bike (are they still called 10-speeds?!). To each her own :o)

My church group has a team that bikes the Anheuser Busch trails in Cartersville, so maybe that would be fun? I hate to run, so maybe I should try this? I haven’t ridden a bike since I was a kid.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 11th, 2012
9:27 am

Dear Editor — Thanks for copy editing my work. We don’t have the luxury of an editor for blogs. That would be lovely because everyone can use an editor.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 11th, 2012
9:31 am

JOD — I tried out the mountain bike and a cross-breed bikes and the seats are so much smaller and less padded. Now you can buy those gel seats that they use in spin classes to put on it but you should definitely ride around on it to see. The next day my bottom was sore after trying to the little hard seats out at the store. I was surprised. I was like why is that hurting – oh that’s exactly where that little mountain bike seat was.

I feel like I can very fast on the cruiser — I did 5 miles in less than 30 mins the other day over a very hilly area. The only think I feel like I have to be careful about is making sure I hit the flattest part of the curb cut. I did go over a couple of higher curb cuts and worried about the bike. The mountain bikes and the cross over ones have shock absorbers on them. I don’t know why they couldn’t put a bigger seat on those.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 11th, 2012
9:32 am

JOD — just saw your last comment — I hate to run too — I love to walk but it’s nice to mix it up — plus I am definitely breathing harder on the bike and my legs and glute muscles hurt more the next day in a good way from the bike.

I think you have to mix it up a lot so you don’t get bored and a bike is nice to have in the rotation.

A

January 11th, 2012
9:40 am

Good for you, TWG, but I don’t think cycling is trendy at all. I do agree it’s great exercise; I’m just a wimp about riding in cold weather, so my bike stays in the garage until it’s above 70!

Stacey

January 11th, 2012
9:48 am

My husband and his sister bought my mother in law a bike and helmet for Christmas. She told me that she wanted the pink Schwinn (she called it the Susan G Koman bike) but my sister in law picked it up and got a mint green and chocolate brown Schwinn. We had bought her a ten speed about 15 years or so ago that she never once rode but she says she will ride this one because her best friend and several ladies in her subdivision ride bikes now. My husband says he wants to get bikes for us because he loved riding them when he was growing but I doubt that I would ride one now since I rarely did growing up. My son has never been interested in riding his bike either although all of the kids in the subdivision ride all the time. He likes his Razor scooter and skateboard but just not the bike so much.

JOD

January 11th, 2012
9:55 am

@TWG – A fair point. Tush comfort rates higher on the list after you hit 30, for sure!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 11th, 2012
10:04 am

Stacey — my kids prefer the scooters to the bikes. but I think they need to have that skill. they are terrible at it. also the scooter doesn’t go as fast as the other kids on the bikes. I hate to invest because the bigger bikes (20 and 24 inch) are so expensive to hear them say they hate it but I feel like they need to master this and they never have.

mystery poster

January 11th, 2012
10:05 am

@TWG
It’s actually your sitz bones that are causing you discomfort, and after a couple weeks you won’t notice it any more.

@jod
“street bikes” are now mostly called road bikes, and have way more than 10 speeds now. I have a double-crank on the front and 10 on the back, which makes mine a 20 speed. Bikes with triples on the front have more than that.

Mountain bikes are also a blast (I have one of those as well), but avoid a hybrid like the plague. They are heavy, clunky, and don’t do much well.

If you are going to invest in a bike, invest in a GOOD bike, from a bike store. You will enjoy it more and have fewer problems on a good quality bike.

mystery poster

January 11th, 2012
10:07 am

@TWG
Not sure how CraigsList is for kids’ bikes, but for a good quality used bike for adults it’s a gold mine.

mystery poster

January 11th, 2012
10:07 am

They say biking is the new golf.

JOD

January 11th, 2012
10:40 am

@mystery poster – Thanks! Question for you – is there a size of bike (probably a road bike) that is good for short people? I’m 5′2″, but all of the bikes I’ve looked at are recommended for 5′3″-4″ and up. Does an inch or 2 make a difference? I think I’ll check out Craigslist…

motherjanegoose

January 11th, 2012
10:56 am

This may be something for me! I enjoy walking the neighborhood but know too many people and thus I stop to talk….ruins everything about exercise but I love the visiting. I used to ride a bike every night when my son was small enough to put on a seat in the back. It was flat in our neighborhood in Texas and when we moved to Atlanta, it was not…so I gave it up. That was over 20 years ago! As an adult, do you have to wear a helmet if you ride in your neighborhood? I know it is probably setting a very bad example for the kids.

mystery poster

January 11th, 2012
11:08 am

@Jod
I’m also about 5′2″ and my bike is a 44 cm (I think) (the size of a bicycle is the length of the seatpost tube). Mine is the smallest you can get and still have the 700 wheels. Some manufacturers size theirs small, medium, and large. Mine is also a women’s design (not to be confused with a girl’s bike, with the slanted tube). The cockpit is shorter and the front tube has a different angle, among other things.

There are some basic guidelines for bicycle fitting, do a quick Google search for some You Tube videos on the subject. A correctly fitting bike is about more than comfort, it’s about performance as well.

I absolutely adore riding my bike, it’s amazing how the most stressful day just melts away when I start that ride. I ride the Silver Comet and an area in south Fulton County called the Silk Sheets. I also have some routes mapped out around my house that are pretty low-traffic (Atlanta is a very bike-unfriendly place).

Expect to pay a few bucks for a good bike. My justification is that it’s cheaper than blood pressure medication and/or therapy.

Haven’t ridden much lately, I’ve been running more. Have a couple extra pounds that need to go away, and running seems to do that the most efficiently. I don’t like it much, though.

mystery poster

January 11th, 2012
11:09 am

@MJG
Helmets are not required for adults in GA, but it’s a good idea. You know what they say, it’s a lot harder to learn your ABCs the second time :-)

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 11th, 2012
11:22 am

MJG — the helmet is definitely the bummer of the scenario. it is not a good look for me. I told Michael you know I am really exercising and not trying to meet guys. But I do think very necessary — even in the neighborhood.

K's mom

January 11th, 2012
11:39 am

My key exercise right now is chasing a 20 month old and walking. I have only gained 9 pounds in 23 weeks of pregnancy (I am normal/healthy weight and average height), so I think it is working! Once my boys are old enough to ride, I want to invest in a bike for me too. Thanks for the fun story!

Me

January 11th, 2012
11:39 am

My oldest daughter never did learn to ride a bike and, at almost 23, still cannot. I tried and tried and tried – but, alas, a failure was I in that regard!

Me

January 11th, 2012
11:46 am

Or maybe she takes after her mother and is a bit challenged above the shoulders!

DB

January 11th, 2012
12:14 pm

@JOD — your best bet is to stop by a bicycle shop and try a few sizes of bikes, and have one of the techs eyeball your bike form (leg extension, etc.) — it can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. My son is 6′3, with long legs — he had to special order his last two bikes, because the frames weren’t ‘mainstream’ — they may have to do the same for you. If you’re inexperienced, what may seem “comfortable” at first may end up actually being more stressful in the long run, especially if you don’t have the height adjustment just right.

And TWG, kudos to you for wearing a helmet. It drives me crazy to see some parents out biking with their kids — the kids are all helmeted up, but the parents are bare-headed, as if their head wouldn’t crack if it hit the pavement. The kids see it, too, and absorb the attitude — then you get kids wearing helmets that aren’t strapped on, etc. A biker may be confident in their ability — but folks, that’s why they call them “accidents”. My husband has two helmets that he kept for shock value — one was an older one, when the insides were styrofoam. The styrofoam is completely shattered from him trying to avoid a piece of road trash and the bike went out from under him (this is a man who regularly biked centuries on the weekends with his friends — a century is 100 miles.) Another helmet has all the plastic shattered on the outside, with a big dent, from someone carelessly opening a car door in his path to toss out a drink — he hit the pavement, but with nothing more than scrapes and a ruined helmet. If it can happen to him — an excellent, experienced and highly aware rider — it can happen to everyone. WEAR YOUR HELMET!

mystery poster

January 11th, 2012
12:20 pm

@DB
Good advice! Bike shops can be very helpful in fitting people to the right sized bike. However, if you get fitted at a shop and then buy a bike used, throw the LBS (local bike shop) a bone and bring it for a tune-up or buy some accessories or something. We like to help keep them in business!

I know many of us who grew up not wearing helmets don’t think they’re necessary, but it’s a different world today. Cars are faster, larger and the drivers are much more distracted.

Techmom

January 11th, 2012
12:52 pm

Definitely wear your helmet!! And if you don’t bike with ID or emergency contact info, get a road ID or something similar (there are free ones called “Finish Tags”).

I did not want to invest in a new road bike before seeing if I was really committed. I did go to a couple of local places and sit on bikes but just couldn’t bring myself to invest over $1,000. So once I knew the size and kind of bike I wanted, my husband hit Craigslist up. I got a $1200 bike that was 4 years old but barely used for $350. My local bike shop has since made money on me with a tune-up, shoes/cleats and accessories so I don’t feel bad not buying a new bike from them.

We couldn’t find a used bike in my son’s size so we got his new from Performance Bicycle. They have some lower-end road bikes with the same quality components found on name brand bikes that are ideal for entry-level cyclists so check them out if you have one nearby.

Gtmom

January 11th, 2012
12:57 pm

I have no problem wearing a helmet..Motorcyclists have to wear helmets.. why not me?

mystery poster

January 11th, 2012
1:38 pm

@Techmom
Exactly. Keep the LBS in business with service and accessories! That’s more long-term than one bicycle purchase anyway. You’ll get more out of your bike if it’s well service and maintained.

Performance is an OK place to buy a new bike from, they do have some bikes with very nice components. My husband bought both his road bike (Fuji) and his mountain bike (their brand: Access) from them. I think the road bike is a better bike. I bought an entry level road bike from bikes direct (online), rode it for about 2 years and then invested in a nice Felt. Probably should have made the investment right from the start, but who knew?

My husband and I both work near different trailheads on the Silver Comet. When I first started I would bike down and meet him, then together we would go back to where my car was, me on my road bike and him on his one-speed. Then, he’d go back to his car. I’ve improved a lot since then, but he’s still much faster than me.

Techmom

January 11th, 2012
1:50 pm

Performance is one of the only bike shops where you can find a half-decent road bike in the $500 range. We were going to buy one from BikesDirect but then decided there was still value in actually sitting on the bike you’re going to ride BEFORE you buy it (plus it’s 100% assembled already!)

I figure if I stick with cycling more than a few years, I will invest in a nicer bike but I really can’t complain about my Craigslist bike. Kind of like buying a used car; someone else got to take the hit on the initial depreciation :)

JOD

January 11th, 2012
2:51 pm

Great ideas, thanks! I will certainly get a less expensive/used bike, then upgrade if I stick with it and wear out that hand-me-down :o) I’m thinking it would be nice to go riding as a family.

@mystery poster – Cute lunch date!

And here I thought women...

January 11th, 2012
3:01 pm

…rode those skinny seated bikes because it felt good…

Fred

January 11th, 2012
3:06 pm

Recently when I read this blog I when i scroll to the comments it’s to see how many posts it takes get to the first criticism. I was surprised today to see it was only one but not because it was the first one, but because of what it was for. I was expecting someone to blast Theresa for wanting that retro bike or to criticize her for her riding , not her typo’s.

@Theresa concerning your 9:27. I’ll do a look see edit for you. For free even. I used to write about NASCAR on one of the only websites that wasn’t from a network (or NASCAR sanctioned) that was granted media credentials to almost any and every race (Atlanta were crapheads for some reason, but they lost a race and should lose another so what’s the difference). I know how easy it is to typo and also how easy it is to re-read your own stuff and blip over the typo’s because you read them as you meant them lol, not as you typed them.

Keep on biking.

Kat

January 11th, 2012
3:22 pm

Keep up the good work, Theresa! They say to find the exercise that works for you and that is fun, and you’ll stick with it. I think cycling where you are is much safer than cycling here in Atlanta.

FCM

January 11th, 2012
4:53 pm

Kids got a pogo stick….talk about a way to tone your legs….that thing is hard work! I am thinking the next trend is to pogo it is cheaper than a bicycle!

Fred

January 11th, 2012
5:34 pm

@FCM: Will a pogo stick support my 260 lb fat ass?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 12th, 2012
12:07 am

FCM — you must have a stronger pelvic floor than I do — I would be peeing with every jump!! No peeing on the bike!

Fred — thanks for your kind offer — You absolutely read straight over the typing mistakes and because they are real words often the spell check doesn’t catch them. Now I am worried about tomorrow’s post.

FCM

January 12th, 2012
8:36 am

I did not mean it sarcastically! Ok the trend part I did….but seriously a pogo stick was not as easy as I had expected.

@ TWG — Keagle!!!

@ Fred I know the pogo comes in different weight variances. No idea what they are tough. I do hear you on the weight, I am overweight.

I also got a couple dance exercise wii things for Christmas. Before you knock it, the kids’ step-mom lost over 100 lbs on weight watchers and wii exercise.

JOD

January 12th, 2012
8:54 am

@Fred 5:34 – Too funny!!! I’m picturing a big burly guy on a pogo stick :o)

tc

January 12th, 2012
9:18 am

I love to ride my bike, but there are very few places to do it safely. I live near many narrow 2 lanes roads. If we want to bike safely, I have to put our bikes in the car and myand drive to the Greenway Trail. It’s not that far from my house, but it’s a pain to have to put a bike in the car to find a safe place to ride.

cobbmom

January 12th, 2012
1:37 pm

I have the dark green version of the Schwinn and LOVE it. We bike as a family, my son had a tagalong until he was old enough to ride his own bike and keep up. I have the gel cushion for my seat in addition to the big seat since we bike on the Silver Comet trail.

Outspokin in Woodstock is a good bike store. They work with you with what type you want/need and you can take the bike for a test run to see if it is comfortable and the right bike for you. My husband tried several mountain bikes before he got the one that was best for him, I knew my Schwinn was for me as soon as I found out it had foot brakes. Hand brakes and I don’t get along and I didn’t want them on my bike.

Courtnee

January 12th, 2012
8:44 pm

First, I’ll agree with cobbmom: Outspokin’ Bikes is a good LBS. They sell Globe Daily which has the comfortable “sit up and beg posture” of a Dutch bike. They also have workshops where you can learn bike maintenance. ITP, there’s a bike shop that sells other such city bikes, but I can’t think of the name. If you google “Trek Coco Atlanta” I’m pretty sure it will come up. My first “slow” “chic” bike was a vintage Ross Europa 3-speed so I have nothing against cruisers, but I don’t know if they’re comfortable for really long rides. You knees come well into your torso–you’re kind of scrunched up compared to the Dutch-like city bikes that everyone’s making now. I ride a Globe Live 2 Mixte and I’ve been on some fairly rigorous social rides with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and my body felt fine afterwards (I wasn’t happy about being sweaty though).

As far as this cycling “trend” goes, how long does something have to be relevant before it’s no longer a trend? Commute by Bike has been live since Spring 2005. The term “velocouture” was coined for a Flickr group in 2006; there’s a blog too. Heck, my blog is almost four years old and I’ve noticed in the cycle chic corner of the blogosphere more talk of infrastructure and advocacy so I definitely think we’ve moved past the trendiness of utility cycling to the permanence of utility cycling. It’s simply an easy, fun, economical, green, healthy way to get around.

Theresa, I’m glad you see this as a “trend” for women because a high female ridership is the mark of a vital cycling community. Women are the “indicator species” of bike-friendly cities. I hope this means that Atlanta and its sprawling suburbs will make substantive moves towards complete streets. (I won’t hold my breathe for it in Marietta though).

Augusta

January 13th, 2012
9:12 am

I love riding bikes. We all have bikes…..My favorite place to go biking is Callaway Gardens…..

We ususally bike around the neighborhood several times a week, weather permitting…..

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