If your sport of choice is mountain biking – or even cycling – you can be forgiven for being put off getting in the saddle during the winter. The cold itself is definitely an issue, but more of a problem are the icy roads (which are potentially lethal), the freezing headwinds and the lack of natural light.
Obviously it’s possible to stay in shape and exercise similar muscles by jumping on an exercise bike in the gym, but the allure of that is lost on many, including me. It’s just not what I want from my cycling!
So the question arises of how to stay in shape? Part of it is nutrition – although mince pies and Christmas cake and turkey and all the other assorted goodies are lovely, it’s important not to indulge too much. Otherwise, you’ll spend your first month back on the bike burning fat rather than actually improving your fitness.
Yet even if you eat healthily, not exercising at all will undoubtedly make your fitness levels drop off. The solution – at least for me – is to try something completely different.
Take up yoga.
Honestly. It doesn’t really cost anything in terms of buying new attire – everyone owns a t-shirt and shorts (and if you don’t, they’re easily available), and class pricing is reasonable. Yoga both exercises your body, and improves your flexibility, something which is really useful for cycling.
Yoga is not without its detractors – many people criticise it as useless, or a ‘girls’ activity; yet these people have rarely tried it for themselves, making assumptions based on an image perpetuated by other non-participants. The stretchier your muscles are, the quicker they’ll recover from your workouts, making it easier to exercise repeatedly and over longer distances, improving things like stamina and overall fitness. It even burns loads of calories. If you don’t believe it, go away and try it, then come back and say I’m wrong! If you fancy an even greater challenge; book yourself in for a spot of Bikram Yoga…that’ll leave you feeling exercised!
To locate a Yoga centre near you, click here.