Cycling is a great way to keep fit, enjoy scenic landscapes and spend some leisure time with family. It really works wonders and you don’t require any special training to enjoy this simple activity. Cycling is one of the most effective modes of transportation. You can cycle anywhere and anytime of the year. It is one of best ways to explore your neighbourhood or city without having to juggle with parking spots or getting stuck in a traffic jam. If you don’t feel like cycling alone, you can join cycling groups.Cycling need not be boring. With advances in technology most bicycles that are available in the market or in the gym are connected to video games, setting up a challenging workout for you. Many gyms these days’ conduct spinning classes, which are high energy intense work out done on a spinning cycle. With a motivating environment, music, beats, lightings and the instructor commands it is a fun way to burn fat. Some instructors also combine it with strength training, Pilates and yoga breaking the monotony from regular gym cycling.Cycle smartBefore heading out to engage in this sport, it is best to consider buying the right type of bicycle. While buying a bicycle suiting your body type and frame, straddle the bike and stand flat footed. If you are opting for road bikes (travelling on the roads, pavement or cycles track) there should be 1-2 inches of clearance between your groin and the top tube (connects the head of the top tube to the junction of the seat tube). For mountain biking, the clearance should be 2 inches. Handle bars in both cases should be 1 inch lower than the seat top.It would be absolutely uncomfortable to ride a bike with hard and narrow seat, especially for women who have wide sit bones. Saddle, which is anatomically designed wider, well- cushioned, gel filled or made of sheep skin is most preferable to ease the discomfort, friction and pressure. The seat should also be well adjusted so that the knees don’t get locked while extending or bend too much while rotating.Whether you are a beginner or totally out of shape it’s best to start slowly. Pedal for 30 minutes on an even terrain for 3-4 weeks and then gradually start challenging yourself with different terrains (e.g. hill), duration and intensity. Riding in groups, with friends will zip the distance faster and motivate you to become a better cyclist.Safety tipsRemember to stay hydrated as cycling causes sweating. Keep sipping a little water to replace the lost fluid and electrolytes.Shift position frequently while cycling and change your hand and body position so that different muscles are worked and pressure is put on different nerves. Also avoid keeping your hands on the curved part of the handle bar for a long time as this causes cramps in hands, shoulders and neck. Try and keep the arms relaxed; and avoid elbow locking, as this will act as a shock absorber.Cycling benefits allCycling is a great workout for all parts of your body as you balance yourself while pedalling the bike. It is comfortable and enjoyable form for losing weight and is relatively a non-weight bearing exercise unless you're cycling in a standing position. In addition, it also:• Improves cardiovascular fitness - Cycling makes the heart beat in a steady manner and improves cardiovascular fitness. Since it utilises the largest muscle groups, i.e. legs, it increases the heart rate and improves overall stamina and fitness. According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of heart disease by 50 per cent.• Boosts stamina - cycling regularly enhances your endurance levels.• Builds strength and muscle tone - cycling improves your muscle strength and tone. Since cycling involves working the entire body, not only the legs, it builds the entire body strength in a holistic manner.• Aids weight loss and management - cycling helps to shed fat and keep the weight off. Regular bike riding keeps the body lean and toned (less opportunity for flabby arms and legs). Although most people feel that the abdominal muscles are not being exercised the truth is that cycling also tightens the abdominal muscles and makes you look better defined.• Great workout in certain medical conditions - Cycling can be done even if you have arthritis of the lower limbs, lower back pains and history of knee or ankle injuries. Since pedal power is low impact, it takes the weight of the body. Therefore, most people who cannot do high impact sports or activities because of the pressure it puts on their joints, such as running, cycling serves a great alternative.• Reduces stress - Cycling reduces stress and depression and improves overall well-being and self-esteem. It is great for the mind and soul. Cycling outdoors is also a good way to be one with nature and to rejuvenate as it de-stresses the mind and releases happy hormones, endorphins.• Rehabilitation - Cycling improves your overall range of motion of lower limb joints. Being a non-weight bearing exercise it does not put pressure on the joints. Stationary cycle (may or may not be accompanied with a back rest) and recumbent cycle (bicycles with back rest) are commonly recommended for people with leg injury, diabetic neuropathy, lower back aches and pains, central obesity etc. Owing to the low impact it has on the joints it is commonly used in foot and knee rehabilitation programs.