What’s the Fastest Way for You to Become a Healthier Cyclist Right Now?

This article originally appeared in the Capital Bicycle Club Newsletter February 2014

Continuous ImprovementMost of the recreational athletes that I know crave more time and flexibility in their schedule to take care of themselves.  I often hear that they don’t have enough time to stretch, do core exercises, cook healthy food, or get enough rest.  They just want to ride!  Of course, I can’t blame them, I feel the same pressures, myself.  At work, I hear many of the same words coming out of my patients’ mouths.  Add to that an unfortunate accident that keeps them from working, managing their bills, or just getting a child to swim class on time, and the whole world starts to appear as if it’s unraveling at the seams!  The truth is, we are ALL looking for a reprieve and space to allow us to take care of ourselves.  One of the things I try to do for people is help them learn habits that will take them closer to their goals of becoming healthier, whether it’s in athletics or daily life.  What are some of those basic habits?  That’s what the rest of this article is about.  Hopefully, this will remind you of some of the best practices you can undertake to keep you rolling!

Get Awesome Sleep:  By almost all counts, improving your sleep can really change your life.  Unfortunately, work, electronics, and other diversions and factors have eroded the number of hours of sleep that we get per night.  How much sleep you need is highly individualistic, but on average adults require about 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  When’s the last time you got at least that much?  Keep a sleep journal or use a FitBit to find out.  Some of the most profound changes in sleep can be made by going to bed at a regular time and avoiding electronics prior to going to sleep.

Manage Your Stress:  Stress is a normal part of life and we are equipped to handle quite a bit of it for short periods of time, however, chronic stress can have a profound impact on almost every aspect of our lives.  It can affect nearly every system of the body, including the nervous system, endocrine system, and immune system.  Chronic stress can even limit the potential of our body to heal, recover, and adapt to exercise.  Some stress can be managed by changing your habits, but sometimes we need help from a professional to make necessary changes to improve our stress.

Eat Great Food:  Let’s face it, we can all improve our diet in some way or another.  Whether you are dealing with food allergies or poor choices and habits, there is a great deal of power that you can gain from being more conscious of your diet.  At a bare minimum, increasing the number of fruits and vegetables in your diet is one way to support a healthy body.  A step beyond that is eliminating the foods that do you no good:  sweets, pies, pastries, etc.  Before you call me names, though, take a look at what’s left…  generally a reasonable diet with lots of fruits and vegetables!!  Score!

Manage Injuries and Illnesses:  More often than not, a small injury or illness is a warning sign that your body is under distress.  Think of it as a warning flare.  While no one can prevent all illnesses and injuries, we can be careful to notice when our body feels stressed and out of sorts.  Training with a compromised body will ultimately have its consequences.  Many times we are too busy to set up an appointment for healthcare or to even replace a worn out bike part that is causing us biomechanical stress (worn saddles/shoes, etc.)  The first action you can take is to rest and see if the condition improves.  If not, or if your biomechanics are impacted as a result of pain, you should seek an evaluation to investigate the problem further.

More likely than not, you didn’t find any of these entries earth-shattering.  Deep down, we all have the common sense and ability to take care of ourselves in a beautiful way.  Doing so in the midst of a busy lifestyle can be challenging for all of us.  When it comes to making changes that you want to make stick, just pick one or two things to focus on and make a commitment to give it your best effort.  You won’t regret it, and you may just have the best year of your life ahead of you!  See you on the road.

Read more about Dr. Rosser’s adventures as an amateur cyclist www.rosserchiro.com . He is the team chiropractor for the CBC/Olympia Orthopaedic Associates Racing Team, and assists other athletes in the community.  For more information, he can be contacted at andy@rosserchiro.com.

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