Yes, riding a bicycle is great exercise. It can help you get in shape and lose weight, and it can reduce the risk of health problems such as heart attacks. Bicycling puts less strain on your joints than jogging does, so bicycling is easier on your body.
Sometimes your mistakes cause crashes, and other times car drivers or loose gravel on the road are to blame. You are more likely to be seriously hurt if you run into a car or if you are riding fast. Children can be hurt while doing stunts on their bicycles. Getting your fingers or toes caught in the spokes or the pedals can also cause injuries.
If you hit your head when you fall you should see a doctor, even if the injury seems minor.
The best way to protect your head and face is to wear a helmet. If you fall from your bike, a helmet will help absorb the force of the impact, sparing your head. All children and adults should wear helmets when they ride, even on short trips. This is now the law in some states.
When you select a helmet, make sure it meets government standards. Look for a seal from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or Snell Memorial Foundation. Make sure the helmet fits you snugly, and ask for help if you're not sure of the right fit. Your helmet should not move from side to side or front to back once you have clasped the chin strap.
Here are some more tips for avoiding injury while riding a bike:
Parents should teach children basic traffic rules and make sure they ride in safe places. Children younger than 10 years of age should not ride near traffic.
It is always a good idea to make sure that everything on your bicycle is working correctly. Get in the habit of checking that the brakes are working, and be sure there are no loose or broken parts on your bike. Reflectors and lights make you and your bicycle more visible to car drivers in the dark. Consider taking your bicycle to a bike shop for a professional tune-up from time to time.
If you ride with a child on your bicycle, you should use a special seat that fits behind the main seat. The child always needs to wear a helmet when riding with you. Also, make sure the bike has spoke guards to prevent the child's feet from getting caught in the spokes.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff