Janice Snow doesn't need to ride her bicycle for fitness. Six days a week, she teaches at least one class at the West YMCA, so she gets plenty of exercise. Yet seven days a week, as long as the weather's cooperative, she rides her bike.
"It's very relaxing. It relieves stress for me," she says. "And, of course, you get all the other benefits."
Benefits? Oh, yeah. It's a low-impact activity, so it's much easier on joints than running. It's an aerobic workout, so you get cardiovascular benefits. It strengthens your muscles, though Snow notes, "You do have to watch your posture, stay centered on the bike."
Being outside also gives her exposure to vitamin D, the "sunshine vitamin" that's so important to strong bones.
She has been riding "since I was a kid — and that's what's so nice," says Snow, who is 53 now. "You can ride a bike forever."
She rides on Saturdays with her granddaughter, who's 10. She rides on Sundays with her husband, who is much more challenging to keep up with. And she rides to and from the Y.
Snow doesn't ride a fancy, high-dollar bike, just a "middle of the road" 10-speed.
"It's just such a good workout," she says. "There's nothing negative about it."
Except the need for alertness.
"I did have a little old lady almost hit me one time. She just didn't see me," says Snow, who knows she has a right to the road but also knows that bicycles can sometimes be "invisible" to drivers.
Snow has these tips for someone starting out or getting ready to ride again:
* Get your bike out and make sure it's in working order.
* Wear a properly fitted helmet.
* Start slowly and work up to faster speeds and longer distances.
* Be alert to your surroundings.