For many, riding a bike is something they loved when they were younger, but as time progressed, they eventually forgot about it in many ways.
For seniors, getting back on the bike to ride again is actually one of the best decisions they can make, in more ways than one.
It’s not exactly a secret. As people age, they lose some of their physical abilities, making exercise more difficult, and certainly unappealing for many.
Senior bike riding offers an easy and fun way to exercise, and also provides a wide range of benefits that leads to a better overall quality of life.
Let’s go over some of the benefits that cycling offers seniors, along with what to look for when choosing a bike.
WHY SHOULD SENIORS BIKE?
There are plenty of reasons for older people to climb aboard a bike on a regular basis. For one thing, it’s something that the vast majority of seniors have done at some point in their lives, especially in the youths. Bike riding offers a sort of throwback experience for many, although it will often quickly turn into a favorite hobby.
For a lot of seniors, some of the exercising they used to partake in years before are no longer an option. This includes lifting weights, using some exercise machines, and for some; running.
This can be attributed to a variety of factors, including arthritis, chronic pain, and just a lack of strength in general.
Biking offers a minimal impact exercise that is a much better option for those that need as little impact as possible due to physical conditions. It also lets them get outside and enjoy their surroundings more, which is definitely worth mentioning, as many seniors tend to fall into the recliner and television way of life all too easily.
PHYSICAL HEALTH BENEFITS
The primary benefits of seniors cycling involve better health. Here are just a few examples.
Heart health is the number one priority for seniors, as heart disease and other cardiac issues remains the leading cause of death for those over the age of 55. Aerobic exercise is the best way that someone can strengthen their cardio system, while also receiving increased energy and vitality.
There are several different ways that one can perform aerobic exercises, but cycling is the best for seniors. It’s low-impact, easy, and can be done nearly anywhere. 30 minutes on a bike for 3 to 4 times a week will lead to a significant increase in heart health.
Legs are relied up upon to do all the pedaling, so naturally they are going to receive the brunt of the effects physically. Leg strength is increasingly important for seniors as they age, but it’s hard to find a routine workout outside of cycling that is as easy on the body in general.
Weight issues are not reserved to one specific age group, but seniors are certainly prone to gaining weight for a number of reasons. Lack of inactivity combines with the changes in the body that come from the effects of aging, all of which combines to facilitate weight gain.
As we’ve already mentioned, it can be hard for seniors to be as physically active as they once were. Much of this is due to the high-impact nature that many exercises offer. Cycling is virtually impact-free, and very easy on the body, so it’s an easy way to exercise.
Cycling is an aerobic exercise more than anything, so it’s very efficient in burning calories. Aerobic exercise also boosts metabolism, which can be effective in combating weight gain as well. Thus, cycling is a great way to bring on weight loss, even if just a few times a week.
One of the more underrated aspects of cycling is the role it plays in improving your posture and back strength. The cycling motion on a standard bike actually does engage the back muscles to an extent.
Posture is improved too. It’s not very easy to slouch when you are cycling, as you are naturally encouraged to keep your straight as you ride. Over time, this leads to an improvement in posture, which is physically beneficial in several different ways.
As we’ve already seen, biking has numerous physical benefits, but the mental benefits are very much worth mentioning.
First and foremost, cycling take place outside. Many seniors are tempted to stay inside all the time, and can easily get accustomed to only leaving the home for errands, social events, and whatever else.
Staying inside all the time can actually increase the odds of depression, which can be devastating in many ways.
Biking gives you a great excuse to get out and enjoy the outdoors, even if it’s just a few rides around the block or neighborhood. The simple act of getting outside more is an easy way to improve one’s overall mood and mental health.
SENIOR BIKE SAFETY
Bike safety for seniors has a few extra precautions that go along with all of the normal bike safety essentials that we’ve touched on elsewhere.
For one, some seniors may need to get a doctor’s clearance before starting a cycling regime, especially if they have any special health concerns.
With aging comes more fragility in bones, so there needs to be increased attention to avoid falls and accidents as well. Hydration and avoiding hot temperatures should be a priority as well.
CHOOSING A BIKE FOR A SENIOR
For a senior, choosing a bike can depend on more than a few factors. As always, the bike needs to be properly sized. There are some other things to consider though.
Comfort is paramount, so the bike should have a plush, wider saddle that is much easier on the body, and it should be easy to control and handle.
Some seniors have back issues that may prevent them from using a standard bike, and would better enjoy the support of a recumbent bike. Seniors who have balance issues can opt for a three-wheeled bike.
As you can see, seniors have plenty of incentive for riding a bike. Better health, a better state of mind, and better strength are all as easy as hopping onto a bike just a few times a week, whether it’s with family and friends, or on a solo ride