Even if you haven’t hopped on and pedaled a bike in a while, you’ll find it easy to get back in the flow. What better reasons are there to get back on a bicycle than enjoying the breeze on your skin and the feeling of autonomy? Well, there are many benefits of bike riding, putting it among the most popular hobbies for seniors to choose. In fact, there are surprising benefits to biking for seniors. Cycling certainly boosts physical health and overall well-being, and it can also improve mental health and slow the aging process too.
Health Benefits of Biking
Get the Wheels Turning
Unless your bike is parked in front of the TV, cycling gets you out in the fresh air. When it’s sunny outdoors, you’ll receive a healthy dose of Vitamin D, essential for bone health and maintaining a positive mood. Physical activity is a good way to lower stress, and cycling’s low-impact movements are forgiving on joints. Cycling is also beneficial for physical coordination as it exercises the quadriceps and other muscle groups that maintain balance. (Do check with a doctor if you are at risk for falls to make sure cycling is a safe choice for you.) Embarking on a regular cycling routine will quickly improve cardiovascular health and assist in weight loss and weight management.
Stay in a Higher Gear
According to a scientific study, one of the benefits of biking for seniors is that it keeps older adults physically young. It prevents the loss of muscle mass and strength that’s common with age. The same study also revealed other benefits of riding a bicycle included its positive effect on the immune system, which kept it working as well as that of a younger person. Like many hobbies, cycling offers a social component that supports mental health and combats depression. It’s a great shared activity to do with family and friends, or in a club or group that encourages bicycling for seniors.
Best Bikes for Seniors: How to Choose
Apart from being healthy exercise, cycling is an environmentally conscious alternative in a world full of gas-guzzling vehicles. Some of the best bicycles for seniors are hybrid models where an electric motor kicks in as needed. A hybrid bicycle will still provide exercise while running errands or picking up something at the supermarket but allows a senior rider to venture further afield without worry. Whether you choose a traditional or hybrid bicycle, consider getting a model that’s designed especially for seniors, and have it fitted to your height, weight and physical needs. Here are some features to look for:
- Adjustable handlebars — Handlebars should be high enough to be comfortable for cruising along, but easy to grip firmly at any speed.
- Contoured saddle — Saddles can be padded and shaped for male or female riders to make longer rides more comfortable.
- Seat adjustment — A seat that allows a more upright position eases pressure on the back.
- Shock absorbers — Choose the “road feel” that is preferred but still buffers bumps on the road.
- Tires — Wider tires offer a more cushioned ride. Choose tires with anti-slip grooves for wet weather.
- Terrain — If you live in a hilly area, get a bike that’s lighter but with good handling ability on inclines.
Visit a local bike shop where the owner will let you try out a few brands to see which suits you best. If your bike riding skills are a little rusty, consider signing up for a coaching clinic to learn the basics of safety, bike adjustment, gear changing, and what to do in the event of a slipped chain or flat tire. Connecting with your local cycling community will also help you gain information about bike-friendly trails to ride and groups to join.
How to Stay Safe While Cycling
Before getting back on a bike — indeed, before starting any new physical activity — check in with your family doctor, especially if you have a current medical condition. While the health benefits of biking are undisputable, take it slow, and don’t push yourself too hard. Here are some other safety tips:
- Put a helmet on even if you’re just going around the block.
- Wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet and grip the pedals.
- Ensure you have a working bell to warn pedestrians ahead.
- Attach bike lights to the front and back of your bike for greater visibility.
- Add a patch kit and a pump to your bike frame, and know how to use them.
- Wear reflective or light-colored clothing so motorists can see you easily at night.
- Avoid cycling at night if your night vision is poor.
- Signal well ahead of when you intend to turn, and check for traffic.
- Carry a mobile phone and battery charger in case of emergency.
- Always have some form of ID on your person.
Cultivating hobbies such as bike riding is important to health and happiness. The neighborhood setting of The Heritage at Brentwood provides wonderful opportunities for cycling, walking and other forms of outdoor fitness. With the Brentwood trail system just minutes away, there’s easy access to a network of biking and walking trails interwoven throughout the nearby area. Contact The Heritage to learn more about the remarkable location, services and amenities at The Heritage that provide the best possible lifestyle for residents.