Health & Fitness: Cycling surge good for health and fitness | Newcastle Herald

Health & Fitness: Cycling surge good for health and fitness | Newcastle Herald

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When the nation was plunged into lockdown last year and gyms closed and regular sport was brought to a standstill, many turned to cycling. It was an activity that could be done individually or as a whole family. Bike shops around the country struggled to keep pace with demand for products and, according to industry experts, the trend has continued. As World Bicycle Day was celebrated on June 3, many in the cycling industry called on governments at all levels to invest accordingly in bicycle infrastructure to support the approximately four million Australians choosing to ride for fun, fitness and transport every week. Peter Bourke, general manager of Bicycle Industries Australia, predicted the “COVID dividend” for bike sales as Australians chose to ride in unprecedented numbers had resulted in a 50 per cent increase in sales across the board. Based on historical trends and Australian Bureau of Statistics import data, he suggested Australia would hit a new all-time record of 1.75 million bicycles imported into the country in a 12-month period by June 30 to be sold by bicycle retailers. “It seems Australians voted for bike riding during COVID and visited bike shops with the entire family, leaving with new bikes for everyone or getting their old bikes from the shed repaired and ready for riding,” Mr Bourke said. And it was not only bikes flying out the doors, according to Mr Bourke. “Sales of spare parts, such as tyres and tubes, lights, frames and forks have all increased by 50 per cent while repair shops had wait lists of several weeks as people pulled their old bikes out of the shed and realised they needed some repairs to get them going again.” Mr Bourke said while many bikes were used near home during lockdown restrictions, a lot are now being used to provide genuine transport solutions as people head back to the office and look for healthy, convenient and COVID-safe commuting options. It is good news for those who have either taken up cycling or rediscovered their love for it as cycling has many health benefits. It is low impact, caters to a range of ages and abilities, can be done around the neighbourhood streets, in the bush or on holidays, and offers a way to get some daily exercise by riding to school or work. According to betterhealth.vic.gov.au, regular cycling can not only improve your overall fitness level, it “can help to protect you from serious diseases such as stroke, heart attack, some cancers, depression, diabetes, obesity and arthritis”. It lists other benefits of regular cycling as: increased muscle strength and flexibility, improved joint mobility, decreased stress levels, improved posture and co-ordination, strengthened bones, decreased body fat levels, prevention or management of disease, and reduced anxiety and depression. You can intersperse bouts of cycling at the gym with strength sets for a higher-intensity workout or enter an event, such as the Wollombi Wild Ride in the Hunter Valley in September, as motivation to stay on the bike through winter. Send your health and fitness news to [email protected] Renee Valentine is a journalist, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.

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