Don’t Let Age Keep You from Bicycling
With the UCI Road World Championships which took place in Richmond last month, we just had to share an article on bike riding!
Bicycle riding is proving popular with older adults and more seniors are getting on bikes. Biking rates among people between the ages of 60 and 79 are soaring, an analysis of federal data shows. New trips by seniors account for 22 percent of the nation’s growth in adult biking (People for Bikes).
There is no age at which cycling stops being an option, and anyone who cycles regularly into older age adds years to their life expectancy. Regular exercise can reduce stress and depression and cycling is a particularly low impact activity (second only to swimming) which keeps you fit and alert. Cycling can also be a very cheap form of transport for anyone on any budget. It gets you from A to B at virtually no cost, whenever you want to go. No waiting for lifts from other people: no reliance on buses.
There are more good reasons for cycling in older age: cycling involves smooth, regular movement: it doesn’t put big stresses and strains on your body. Cycling four miles daily reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 50 per cent. It’s good aerobic exercise, yet puts no load-bearing strain on joints or muscles – good news if you are arthritic, a bit overweight or generally unfit. Cycling for half an hour regularly should help shed any extra pounds. Regular cycling improves lung function: useful if you suffer from bronchitis or asthma.
If you have not cycled since your younger days, you may not be aware of just how light and efficient modern bicycles can be. The wonderfully diverse range of cycle types means that there’s a bike to suit everyone, whatever their age. With innovations and advances in technology, manufacturers continually strive to offer improvements in terms of comfort, reliability and ease of use. There are puncture proof tires, exceptionally comfortable saddles, and chain guards and mudguards to keep you clean. Compared to your heavy old all-steel roadster, today’s lightweight bikes are easy to lift and agile in hilly terrain.
Electric bike. This is a good bike for older adults who love bike riding but have physical issues that make hills or other types of terrain challenging. You can pedal until you get tired and then use the motor to climb a steep hill. On a single charge, the bike can go up to 20 miles at 15 mph.
Adult tricycle. These are becoming so popular that adult tricycles come in many different designs, including a semi-recumbent and electric version. With its step-through design, it’s easy to get on and off, and the adult tricycle offers a stable ride. Because you sit upright, this bike is easier on the back, buttocks and hands. The only difficulty you might have to contend with is a few sneers from the younger set on their sleek road bikes.
Manufacturers are now thinking beyond youth-culture cycle fashion, realizing that there will soon be, in most industrialized countries, many more active 55 to 70 year olds than there are teenagers. And young people can be a difficult market, with fashion changing like the shifting sands. For older people image is important, but so is quality, and anyone getting into active cycling at the age of fifty-five may well cycle for twenty or more years yet, as opposed to the five years of active cycling for many of the younger generation before they ‘graduate’ to motorized transport.
“Benefits of cycling,” NHS
“Bike use is rising among the young, but it is skyrocketing among the old,” June 19, 2014, People for Bikes