Cycling is a truly invigorating and liberating experience, enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life.
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.
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.
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 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.
For short journeys, any good working bike will do. You might have an old shopping bike or a bargain mountain bike that you could use.
A 30-minute ride will count towards your recommended weekly activity target.
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 specialist bike shop to ensure it’s roadworthy.
If you’re buying a new bike, there are many models to choose from. Hybrids, road bikes and mountain bikes are the most popular.
A specialist bike shop will 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.
There are also bikes available for people with disabilities.
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.
Practise riding single-handed so you can make hand signals, and get comfortable looking, over both shoulders to improve your visual awareness. Some people prefer to attach a small mirror to their bike’s handelbars or helmet to help them see what’s behind them.
Before you start cycling in traffic, check the road rules and regulations for cyclists.
For health benefits, adults and older adults are recommended to do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.
Children and young people are recommended to do at least one hour (60 minutes) of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every day.
A 30-minute ride, where your breathing is quicker and deeper, will count towards your recommended weekly activity target.
If you’re just getting started, take it slowly and increase your cycle rides gradually. Any improvement on what you currently do is beneficial.
Ensure you stop and seek medical advice if you are feeling unwell.
Make it a habit
The easiest way to ensure you cycle regularly is to use your bike as a means of everyday transport. If you want some company on your bike ride, whether it’s to work or just for fun, find a cycling pal.
Cycle to work
Commuting by bike is cheap, green and one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your routine. Ask your office manager or human resources representative if there are showers and bike storage available.
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 places to cycle in cities and the countryside. Cycling is an ideal way for friends and families to explore their neighbourhood 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.