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Cycling on a stationary bike is an excellent cardio workout that targets your quads, calves and core, all while increasing your heart rate and rate of breathing. According to LiveStrong, riding a stationary bike for just 30 minutes will burn up to 300 calories. However, there are a few things you should know before getting on the stationary bike.

#1) Stretch

Spend five to 10 minutes stretching your body before using a stationary bike. Stretching improves blood flow and muscle flexibility while reducing the risk of injury in the process.

When stretching, lift one of your knees and gently hold it against your chest for five seconds, after which you can bring it down and repeat with the other knee. It’s also a good idea to stretch your shoulders by lifting your arms above your head and rotating your shoulders like you are shrugging.

#2) Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water before, during and after using a stationary bike. Why is this important? Well, assuming you cycle at a moderate pace, you’ll lose a substantial amount of body moisture through perspiration. And if you don’t consume enough water, you’ll become dehydrated, resulting in muscle cramps and fatigue. This is why most seasoned athletes and gym rats bring a water bottle to use while cycling on a stationary bike.

#3) Adjust the Handlebars

One of the first things you’ll want to do after getting on a stationary bike is adjust the handlebars. Nearly all gym-grade bikes have adjustable handlebars. Lowering them will make you feel more aerodynamic, but this doesn’t offer any real benefit since you are indoors. Raising the handlebars, on the other hand, allows you cycle upright, which many people find to be more comfortable. Adjust the handlebars until you find a height that works best for your needs.

#4) Adjust the Seat

In addition to the handlebars, you should also adjust the seat. Ideally, the seat should be about the same height as your hip when standing. This will allow you to pedal while creating just a slight bend of 5 to 15 degrees in your knees when fully extended. If the seat is too low, your knees will have a greater bend, causing increased stress and restricting your ability to pedal.

#5) Watch Your Knees

Stationary bikes have a low risk of injury when compared to other exercise machines and equipment. However, it’s still a form of impact exercise, meaning it places stress on the joints and supporting structures. One area of the body, in particular, that’s susceptible to injury when using a stationary bike is the knees. If you experience swelling, redness or pain in your knees, stop using the stationary bike and wait for the symptoms to subside.

#6) Pedal With the Balls of Your Feet

You should pedal a stationary bike by pressing down with the balls of your feet. Some people have a tendency to pedal with their toes, which reduces their performance and increases the risk of injury. Be conscious of your posture when using a stationary bike and pedal with the balls of your feet, not your toes.

#7) Familiarize Yourself with the Digital Display

Finally, familiarize yourself with the stationary bike’s digital display. Most models allow riders to change the resistance setting on the display. Some also support incline settings to make it more challenging. Start with the low settings and gradually increase the resistance settings until you find the right difficulty level for your needs.

Riding a stationary bike is a fun way to burn calories and tone your body. To reap the most benefit from this workout, though, you should follow the seven tips listed here.

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3 Great Dog Breeds for Farm and Family

For many people, there is nothing more exciting than adding a new canine member to the household. Most will focus on how that dog will fit in with their lifestyles and home, as they should. They will envision fun trips with their dog, playing fetch, and picture their kids growing up with their newest buddy.

If you’re a farmer or rancher, you need to take a few other things into consideration. For example, if you have any type of livestock or other pets, you have to think about their safety.

  • Are you looking for a “livestock guardian” or a family pet who has a job?
  • Is the dog breed you’re considering usually mellow around barnyard animals or do they want to herd or “work” them?
  • Do you want a working dog that can help out on the farm as well as act as a pet and protector for the family?
Livestock Guardian vs Herding Dog

Livestock guardians are just what the name implies – they are bred to guard the livestock. This usually means that they will be raised with, bonded with, and live outside with their adopted herd or flock. They are almost always mellow animals that are pleasant to be around, but they have an important job to do. Becoming a family pet can often make that job harder, or even impossible for them to perform. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve and want to be loved too, they just won’t be that trip-taking, ball chasing dog from the above scenario.

Herding dogs can be “heelers” who move animals from behind or “gatherers” who circle and direct the herd. Keep in mind that the drive to move animals (and people) is in the genes of herding dogs. It can be a huge benefit OR a hindrance. It is also “always on” so it is best for these particular dogs to have some type of job or activity to do, even if it is just playing fetch with the kids or going on regular walks.

Here are 3 great dog breeds for both farm and family – including excellent herding dogs.

Border Collie

Border collies are a workaholic breed of dog that is also always ready for a hug and some playtime. This energetic, predominantly black and white beauty is known for its agility, eagerness to please, and trainability. Their intelligence makes them an excellent companion as well as a worker on the farm.

With a life expectancy of up to 17 years, these dogs have a long time to charm and entertain their humans. They are a medium-sized breed with the males weighing up to around 45 pounds and the females a few pounds lighter. They can reach heights of around 20+ inches at the shoulder.

With their high play and work drive, Border Collies excel at herding work as well as game playing with the older kids. (It is always a good idea to keep an eye on them with small children as that herding instinct doesn’t always pertain only to livestock.) These dogs are also a favorite on the agility courses due to their natural athleticism and competitive nature.

German Shepherd

One of the most popular and recognizable dog breeds in the world is the German Shepherd. On the larger side, these dogs stand up to 26 inches at the shoulder and can weigh up to 90 pounds. When part of a loving family, these big babies don’t realize they aren’t a lap dog so early obedience training is a must.

People usually equate German Shepherds with police or security work. Most don’t realize that herding sheep was the job they were initially bred for. Their large size combined with extremely high intelligence and natural ability made them top choices for most other jobs as well. These animals are one of the first to be considered for military, search-and-rescue, and service dog roles.

German Shepherds have a life expectancy of around 7-10 years. They are wonderful family protectors and make excellent companions. They do have longer coats that require regular brushing or grooming as they shed quite a bit.

Welsh Corgi

Even though their name is descriptive of their size and means “dwarf”, these dogs think they are giants. With huge personalities that don’t quite match their short stature, the Corgis have made an impact as both family and working dogs.

As indicated by their names/varieties of Pembroke and Cardigan, the breed comes from two different agricultural areas of Wales. They were bred as a heeler due to their short height making them perfect for nipping at the heels of cattle. Even though they have sheepdog blood in their genetic makeup, they were found to be ill-suited to herding sheep. They can be a little too rambunctious when working the flock.

The Pembroke is the more commonly found of the two types of Corgi. They stand about 12 inches at the shoulder and weigh 25-30 pounds at maturity. They are often found in the tan and white coloration, but it is not unusual to find reds and sables. Corgis make great family pets and have long been prized as companions and guardians for children.

The More You Know

Learning the habits and traits of the dog breeds you’re looking at now can save a lot of frustration and heartache in the future. Talk to people who have the dogs you’re interested in and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Finding just the right dog breed might take a little research, but it will pay off in the end with a happy new family member.

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