Bicycling for Senior Citizens
It’s no secret that people are living much longer these days, but as we get older, it’s important to keep the blood flowing and the muscles active. While many of us dream of retiring and living a relative life of ease, it’s crucial to keep one’s body in motion…you don’t want to spend the rest of your golden years sitting on the couch, doing nothing.
While we tend to have more health ailments as we get older, there are more senior citizens who actually find the time to participate in exercise, including bicycling. If you’re a senior who used to ride in the past, but gave up or are just gaining an interest in picking up the bicycle once again… don’t let anything get in the way of your doing so.
And if you think that your age might be preventing you from being active, check this out: Jeanne Calment (1875-1997), who has the longest confirmed recorded lifespan (she lived to be 122), was quite active into her later years. Not only did she take up fencing, but she also was an avid cyclist, riding until she reached the ripe old age of 100.
According to a 2011 study posted on Evergreen Rehabilitation, approximately 22% of seniors aged 65 or older participate in some sort of physical activity. In many cases the average senior will exercise for no more than 17 minutes a day, while spending almost four and a half hours watching TV.
Four out of ten seniors aged 65 and older claim to have issues completing one basic activity, meaning an overall greater lack of mobility. Exercise such as walking, yoga and mild weightlifting (such as using canned goods, which aren’t terribly heavy) can help increase mobility and make you more flexible. Add bicycling to that mix and you’ll see your health improve dramatically.
Of course, the first thing you should realize is that you’re never too old to exercise. It doesn’t matter if you’re nine or ninety. If you tend to be fairly inactive, then you’re headed for a plethora of health problems, which can plague you for years to come.
Let’s say you’re in your early 50s. At this point in your life, if you don’t exercise regularly, your metabolism will eventually slow down. Basic moving around can help improve your overall metabolism and muscle mass, which will help burn unwanted calories. The main goal is to not be sedentary, and general exercise, including bicycling can help get you off of your butt and greatly improve your overall immune system as well as improving the quality of your heart and overall blood pressure.
Other positive factors include improved bone density, as well as a greatly lowered risk of such issues as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity, heart issues, osteoporosis, and cancer.
A Couple of Things to Focus on…
If you haven’t ridden for a while and are thinking about it, it’s highly recommended that you get a check up beforehand. While bicycling is great exercise, it can also be very strenuous and may put a strain on your heart if you’re not in tip-top shape. Your doctor can tell you what your limitations are, and even if you can’t tackle the Tour de France on your first outing, a short local ride in the neighborhood might just be a good way to start.
If you’re a bit stiff and are having problems with your joints, bicycling is a great way to help you increase strength in your leg muscles and improve overall flexibility. As a form of aerobic exercise, bicycling can greatly improve your overall pulmonary and cardiovascular functions. It also gets you off of the couch and can help reduce heightened stress levels, as well as helping you live longer.
Choosing a Bicycle
If you’ve had a bicycle in the garage for years and are thinking of dusting it off, then go for it. However, you might need a tune up and if it’s been a while, you might want to consider getting a new bicycle altogether. If you’re in the market for a new bike, be sure to pick one that’s comfortable, especially in the saddle, and that allows you to sit upright.
Recumbent bicycles are incredibly popular amongst seniors, as they help give the spine much needed support, including better overall posture and reduced stress, while at the same time helping to curb saddle sores and chaffing; if you already have back problems, then getting a recumbent is a no-brainer.
Aside from the positive health benefits, bicycling is just flat out fun. If you plan on riding but aren’t sure where to go or if you don’t want to do it by yourself, then there are plenty of organizations and community ride events for senior bicyclists that are posted on the Internet, which provide a wealth of information to help get you going in your area.