Dr David Crichton’s blog: Dust that bike and improve your health

With less than three weeks to go until the UCI Road World Championships come to Doncaster, now is a fantastic time to dig out your bike, give it a dust and give cycling another go.

Doncaster has been lucky enough once again to host another internationally known cycle race which not only puts Doncaster on the map, but also provides a unique opportunity to promote the benefits of cycling on people’s physical and mental health.

Whether you ride every week or haven’t rode for years, riding a bike is something you’ll never forget. There are so many benefits to be gained from regular cycling; some of these include reducing the risk of chronic illness such as heart disease, type 2 Diabetes and Stroke.

Even though autumn is setting in and the weather is starting to get cooler, cycling can be a pleasurable way of keeping fit and getting the whole family active. There’s also a brand new cycle track at the Dome here in Doncaster which will be open to the public after the UCI Road World Championships.

As a doctor, I also know why it’s good for you; here are some of the reasons why:

  • it’s a low impact form of exercise, therefore easier on your joints compared to running or other high impact aerobic activities
  • it involves every part of your body, not just your legs. It increases stamina and muscle tone and is particularly good for keeping knee and hip joints mobile
  • it’s a good way of getting rid of those extra calories. Steady cycling will help you burn around 300 calories an hour
  • it reduces stress, as well as low mood and improves your well-being and self-esteem.

Twelve months ago I took part in a challenging cycle ride, from Land’s End to John O’ Groats, covering a staggering 981 miles over 9 days. I’m not sharing this to blow my own trumpet, far from it, but the physical and mental health benefits I gained from this were immense, including reducing my risk of developing cancer. This is one of the key reasons why I think it’s important to encourage people to take to their bikes. Even those people with medical conditions can benefit from this as the recently launched campaign ‘We Are Undefeatable’ highlights.

Cycling can be hungry work and after a long ride, it’s important to replace this used energy. It can be very tempting to tuck into a quick snack that’s less good for you. It’s important to get the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and trying your best to eat lots of fruit and vegetables.

Also don’t forget to drink plenty of water too, it helps keep hydrated. Even in cooler weather, you still need to drink lots of water.

If you’re not sure if cycling is for you, why not visit Club Doncaster Foundation’s Bike Library at the Keepmoat Stadium, where you can hire a bike for free. It’s available during the week and weekends. You can hire for yourself, family and friends.

There are even trailers to hire for children who don’t ride and you can also hire safety helmets, lights and a lock, all for free. There is a flat path to cycle around the lake and staff at the Bike Library will help you plan a route which avoids traffic, if this is what you would prefer to do.

The impact of the race on local health and care services should be minimal but if you need to travel in or out of Doncaster on the day of the race, please check Doncaster Council’s website for the latest route information.

If you need to visit your local pharmacy or have a medical appointment on the day of the race, again, please plan ahead and check when and where fixed and rolling road closures are taking place.

Let’s embrace the UCI Road World Championships and dig out that bike!