Do you give up on your exercise plan when you don’t see results soon enough—even one as fun as biking? Or are you more likely to let fitness take over your life, sacrificing sleep and socialization for an extra hour of cycling? While both stories are common, neither is the healthiest approach to physical fitness.
Biking—and exercise in general—should be used as a tool to improve your life, not just your aesthetics. Physical activity should uplift you; it should give you energy and feed your soul. It should also exist in harmony with the other important aspects of your life, because true health includes emotional and mental wellness, not just your physical health. If you’re struggling to balance the roles of biking and fitness in your life, this advice is for you.
Make Holistic Fitness Goals
Fitness goals don’t exist in a vacuum. Achieving a muscular or super-lean physique takes a lot of time, energy, and commitment. If that’s what you want to pursue, you have to be ready to say “no” to a lot of other things in life in order to schedule time for cycling—after all, there are only so many hours in the day. Think about all the priorities and responsibilities you have and their relative importance, then figure out how much time you can commit to each item per week. If your fitness plan would take time away from higher-priority items, you may need to adjust your fitness goals to match your life goals. One way to save time is by setting up an in-home gym. The garage, your basement, or a spare bedroom are great spots for this space.
Know It’s Not All or Nothing
Unfortunately, we tend to approach fitness like it’s all or nothing, like the belief that you’re either a fit person or you’re not. But that’s not the case at all. When it comes to getting active, something is always better than nothing, and there is such a thing as too much.
Take Care of Your Body in All Ways
Biking doesn’t negate other abuse to your body. If you’re not eating and sleeping well, misusing drugs or alcohol, or doing other things that wear your body down, your training and your health will suffer. You’ll get the best fitness results when you’re caring for all aspects of your health, and fitness can actually help you make good choices in other areas of life.
Use Rest Days for Self-Care
Rest days are important for preventing injury, but they don’t need to be spent lazing on the sofa (unless you want to!). This is a chance to take self-care beyond healthy meals and good sleep and into the activities that help you connect with your inner self. You can read, journal, meditate, or garden, or you can follow Fitness Blender’s suggestion and get active rest in the form of a nature hike, gentle yoga practice, or long walk with your dog.
Understand When to Step Back
If your biking or all-around fitness routine is causing your relationships, work, or physical or mental health to suffer, it’s time to step back. Overtraining puts you at risk of injury and leads to a variety of health repercussions. It can weaken your immune system, cause fatigue, make it difficult to focus, and even contribute to depression. (Learn more signs of overtraining at MyFitnessPal.) However, overtraining isn’t the only way you can push yourself too hard. If your biking regimen is negatively impacting your self-esteem or getting in the way of other responsibilities, reassess how it fits into your greater life goals. Exercise is a wonderful tool for strengthening yourself in body and mind. However, your fitness goals are just one piece of what makes your life healthy and fulfilling. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a dedicated biker, make sure you’re leaving time and space in your life for everything that’s important to you.