Whether you’re cycling to work, to school, to the shops or just for fun, the humble bicycle is an easy way to get more active.
This guide is designed to make cycling a safe and enjoyable experience for beginners, and provide you with tips on staying motivated.
Before you start
For short journeys, any good working bike will do. You might have an old 10-speed racer, a shopping bike or a bargain mountain bike that you could use.
If you’re buying a second-hand bike or you have an old bike that’s been gathering dust, consider having it serviced at a bike shop to ensure it’s roadworthy.
If you’re buying a new bike, there are lots of models to choose from. Hybrids, road bikes and mountain bikes are most popular.
A bike shop can advise you on the correct frame size and help you select a bike to suit your budget and the type of cycling you want to do.
Find out if your workplace operates a cycle to work scheme. This is a more affordable way of buying a new bike and safety equipment.
There are many bikes available for people with disabilities. For example, in the UK a main provider of specialist bikes is Wheels for All.
For most people, cycling is a safe and effective form of exercise. If you have any health concerns or an existing medical problem, see your doctor before you start.
- practice in a safe environment
- wear a helmet
- be seen and heard
- check your bike
- be alert and plan your route
- check the local Highway Code
If you haven’t cycled much before or you’re out of the habit of cycling, find yourself a traffic-free area to start off in, such as your local park.
Practice riding single-handed so you can make hand signals, and get comfortable looking over both shoulders to improve your visual awareness.
Before you start cycling in traffic, check the local Highway Code (if you live in the UK, or equivalent if you don’t) for up-to-date rules and regulations for cyclists.
Regular cycling can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control.
For health benefits, adults and older adults should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity activity each week.
Children and young people should do at least an hour (60 minutes) of moderate to vigorous intensity activity every day.
A 30-minute ride will count towards your recommended weekly activity target.
Make it a habit
The easiest way to cycle regularly is to use your bike as a means of everyday transport.
Cycle to work
Commuting by bike is cheap, green and one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your routine. Work out your route or contact your local council for free cycling maps.
Cycle to school
Riding to school is a great way to get the kids more active. Cycling has many benefits for children such as improved health, confidence and concentration. Parents may want to accompany younger children, which makes it a good way for grown-ups to get cycling, too.
Mix it up
There are many wonderful places to cycle in cities and the countryside. Cycling is an ideal way for friends and families to explore their neighborhood and beyond.
Join a bike ride
From charity rides to park cycles, signing up for a bike ride is a great way to stay motivated and experience the great outdoors.