Health & Fitness

Jessica Wyman fitness column: Bikes and swimsuits have more in common than you might think

Filled with dread at the thought of swimsuit season? Dreaming up ways to get fit quick? Instead of coming up with short-term plans for your swimsuit body, come up with a lifestyle plan that will extend beyond swimsuit season.

Getting lean always requires eating a clean and healthy diet rich in nutrient-dense foods (vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates), but fitness is a big piece of that, too. And biking is a great tool to get you going. Here are six amazing reasons to consider biking for a healthy life — and bikini body.

1. Family time and fitness rolled into one. If you are a mother, you can get your kids involved and make it a family activity. It’s like saving time by doing two in one. Plus, living in the Treasure Valley provides what feels like endless biking opportunities for many different fitness levels – from a long and leisurely ride on the Greenbelt with your family to a hard-core mountain bike ride in the Foothills with older kids.

2. Riding a bike is an excellent cardiovascular fitness opportunity, and you’re in complete control of how hard you work. The faster or higher-intensity the ride, the more you increase your heart rate.

3. Excellent lower body toning, especially if mountain biking. A significant amount of strength from your legs is required to power your body and bike uphill, and it’s a bit easier on the knees since you’re not stressing the joints as much.

4. Stronger core and upper body, especially when riding downhill. Maintaining balance and maneuverability will utilize your core and upper body, and you might be surprised at the strength you develop.

5. Riding bikes is a great social opportunity. I love it when you can mix fitness and friends. It’s the ultimate form of multitasking, and you’ll be more likely to stick to a fitness plan.

6. To feel young again. Many of us remember the lazy days of summer with the wind in our hair as we cruised the street on our yellow bike with glittery banana seat and daisies on the handlebars. Memories of a simpler time when “go play” meant a ride outside with a pack of neighborhood kids. (Or was that just me?)

I made the personal choice to use mountain biking as my primary fitness tool to prepare in my role as Mrs. Canyon County for the Mrs. Idaho United States pageant on June 6. (Learn more about the event at www.mrsidahounitedstates.org.)

I intend to wear a bikini on stage and knew that biking was one fitness plan that wouldn’t feel like a chore.

Certainly I’m doing other fitness training as well, but biking brings me immense joy and fitness.

I took up mountain biking for a few reasons. The pageant was one of them and parenting was the other — it’s been a bonding opportunity with my youngest son. I also know that minute for minute of exercise, mountain biking is a great calorie-burning opportunity. Exercising outside is also good for soul (and creates Vitamin D).

I often say that fitness is a lifestyle. When you find a sport that can be social or that you love so much you can’t wait to do it, you are more likely to stick with it. So while you might be biking for bikinis, you’ll create longevity and happiness in the process.

Happy trails to you, and if you see me out, please stop and say hi!

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