Maintaining a healthier lifestyle has become one of the top priorities over recent years but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Trying to fit in regular exercise around work and home life can be tricky.
From our experience of working in the cycling arena, we’ve come up with 10 fitness tips and safety advice to help you get back on the healthy track.
Are you ready to get back on the saddle?
1. Exercise mindset
There’s no point starting your fitness journey unless you’ve made a key decision. And that decision is that you’re going to show up for yourself. Your body shows up for you every single minute of every single day, regardless of what you put it through. Can you do the same and make a promise not to let yourself down? Decide now that a healthier lifestyle is what you want, and you’ve made an important first step.
Yes! We’re right with you.
2. Set realistic fitness goals
Different targets work for different people but often pledges, promises, resolutions all tend to require a lot of willpower and can quickly become unrealistic and impractical ideals.
You may have a very noble intention to get back on your bike starting next week, but this can get easily railroaded by a myriad of reasons and excuses. That’s normal. This kind of contract you’ve made with yourself isn’t particularly solid and isn’t enough to encourage you during unmotivated periods. But, setting realistic goals will.
Goals are defined as being aims or desired results. It’s much easier for us to get aligned with a realistic goal and get behind it. Goals give you something to aim for without feeling like you’ve failed before you’ve even begun. They allow you to plan, visualise your future success and track your achievements along the way. They’re the difference between you opening that front door and getting on your bike despite your feelings about the weather or settling down to tuck in to that second packet of biscuits. Goals line you up for success.
3. Find a fitness buddy
It can make all the difference to have a partner in crime when you’re trying to achieve your fitness goals. If you’re struggling to motivate yourself, you might find that having to show up for someone else is what gets you on the saddle. Now is a good time to find a fitness buddy that has shared goals to help keep you on track.
4. Make exercise a habit
If you’re not a natural exerciser or you’re just out of the habit, it’s time to integrate it into your routine again. Rather than it being an alien addition to your schedule, try to think of it as exactly the same as any of your other regular habits.
You can prioritise it just as you would brushing your teeth for example – it has to get done and you know you’re going to feel better afterwards. And, if you plan ahead of when you’ll be getting on your bike each week, your healthy habit will become more easily established.
5. Use cycling technology to your advantage
There are some great cycling fitness apps available to help you stay focused on your goals. You can track your progress, share with friends, easily see your achievements and improvements. This can be a great reminder of how well you’re doing when it might feel otherwise. Use apps as your personal cheerleader!
6. Keep a food diary
You can cycle all you want but if your diet isn’t up to scratch, it will be an uphill struggle. Literally. It’s easy to be unaware of how many calories we’re consuming during a day, so keeping a food diary can help you keep on top of your nutrition. Perhaps you’re eating a lot at the end of the day when your body is struggling to digest it? A food diary will give you a lot more awareness of what’s really going on so that you can make some helpful adjustments.
7. Reduce your alcohol consumption
A nice glass of wine after a long day can feel like a much-deserved reward, but it can also be the undoing of all your hard work! You can be putting in a lot of effort, sticking to your fitness plan and watching your diet. Then boom, three large glasses of wine and you’ve just loaded yourself up with 630 calories. Reduce your alcohol intake to give yourself the best chance of achieving your fitness goals.
8. Don’t push too hard
Just because you’ve decided that your bike is now your friend again, you don’t need to turn in to your own sergeant major. The fact that you’re even getting out there and committing to your goals is fantastic. Be careful to not push yourself so hard that you’re exhausting your body and causing it more harm than good. Keep moving forward at a steady pace and you’ll get there.
9. Employ some professional help
If you really want to go for it and feel that you could do with some objective guidance, working with a trainer can be really supportive (and there are lots of trainers providing sessions online at the moment). A personal trainer will give you feedback on your progress and track where you’re at so you can see yourself getting closer to achieving your goals.
10. Be realistic
Apart from not having the benefit of all of our tips above, one of the biggest reasons for failure is having unrealistic expectations and goals. Be real with yourself, your current limitations and your aims. Having been on your bike twice in the last six months and then setting a goal to cycle squillions of miles next month is setting yourself up disappointment.
It will feel so good to achieve a more realistic plan of getting on your bike twice a week for the next three months for example, as opposed to failing at an impossible challenge.
Cycling safety tips
If you’re resuming your cycling fitness journey, you want to make sure that you’re as safe as possible when setting off on your adventures.
Here are a few cycling safety tips to ensure you are fully covered when getting back on the saddle.
Be well equipped
How you kit out your bike will depend on what you’re using it for. A commute, a short off-road jaunt at the weekend, a longer cycling holiday all require different cycling accessories and equipment such as lights, pumps, bags, and baskets. Think about what your essentials are and pimp your ride accordingly!
Safety is paramount when you’re on the road on two wheels. You must be seen. Front and rear lights are essential, and mirrors can also be helpful, especially if you’re going to be riding on busy roads regularly. Making sure you have a bell to let people know you’re approaching is essential too!
Having the right cycling gear is crucial. You need to be warm, safe, and visible. Make sure you’ve got some base thermal layers that will keep you dry and cosy. A decent bike helmet that fits correctly will minimise damage if you do happen to come off. And, hi vis outer clothing will make you hard to miss.
Plan cycling routes
If you’re working towards a more regular routine or needing to commit to training, plan ahead. Have a look at the week ahead and schedule in your cycling time. You’re far more likely to succeed.
The more care you give your bike, the better it will serve you. Regular TLC will keep all the moving parts in tip-top condition. Keep your bike clean and in good condition. Think about getting a set of multi tools for tinkering at home and a puncture repair kit to have with you when you’re out and about. Don’t forget a bike pump to keep you on the move! You can go for one that fits to your bike frame or a mini pump to throw in your rucksack.
At Halfords we want to be part of your cheerleading squad! We’ve got a wide range of accessories, lights, clothing, locks, helmets and fitness trackers to help you achieve your fitness goals. We’ve even got turbo trainers to help you cycle regularly indoors and a free Bike Health Check if your ride needs a once over.
Make a plan, keep going, champion yourself and be realistic. We’re right behind you!