With the influx of sunshine and the steady melt that is upon us, most of us are wanting to GET OUTSIDE and get moving again.
A great way to exercise outdoors without the added stress of impact on our joints is by riding a bicycle. Biking is a great way to increase your cardiovascular endurance, maintain balance and agility while enjoying the great outdoors at the same time. Increasing your heart rate with some cardio is also an enjoyable way to work off that winter weight that’s been keeping us cozy these past few months.
As with any activity outside, it is important to take certain safety precautions to reduce your chance of injury, especially if you plan on cycling on roadways or unmaintained trails.
The first thing we think of when referring to bike safety is indeed- protecting your noggin. Though some research on the use of helmets is inconclusive, the vast majority of studies agree that a well fitting, properly maintained helmet when worn properly can reduce the chance of serious head injury and death. According to figures from Transport Canada, of the 13,693 people killed in road crashes in Canada between 2004 and 2008, 290 were cyclists. Of those cyclists, 90% of them were not wearing helmets, similar to statistics from the USA. In 2008, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (USA) stats show that 714 cyclists were killed. Only 58 of those cyclists were wearing helmets. The rest, 656, were lidless (http://www.bicycling.com/training/health-injuries/precious-protection).
Additionally, the incidence, frequency and severity of concussions is greatly reduced with the addition of a properly fitting helmet. Though the physiotherapists here at Active Living frequently treat mTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) and post concussion syndrome, it’s important to remember that PREVENTION is key. Protect yourself!
It’s important to note that just setting your helmet on your head isn’t good enough. If you’re wearing a helmet improperly, studies suggest you might as well not be wearing on at all. If it’s worth wearing, it’s worth wearing correctly. Here is a video from the University of Manitoba that gives a quick run down of proper helmet fitting and safety tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvW0rvr9mBk
So to sum up about your helmet that’s been sitting in the bottom of the closet or hanging off of your handle bars for the past few months- it’s not just a great looking accessory – it may also save your life. Put a lid on it!