Something that I passionately believe is that everyone can benefit from biking. As long as you can physically pedal a bike – even at a slow speed – there’s no reason why you can’t improve over time. But how do you get started if you think you’re too old to cycle? And how can you get the most out of cycling? That’s what this article is all about.
There’s no doubt that getting older brings with it increased stiffness and pain. These are often seen as a reason to avoid exercise – but in some cases this can make things worse. I’m no doctor, but I think that once you stop using your muscles is when they really start to decondition.
Of course, you shouldn’t be doing high impact activities as an elderly person – which is why cycling is a great alternative. The important thing is to accept your limitations and work within them. You’re never going to compete with younger riders – and you shouldn’t try. Instead, aim to get the most YOU can get out of cycling.
1. Visit a Doctor Before You Start
You’re probably sick of being told to visit your doctor before starting an exercise program, but it’s really important to do so. Ask them to assess your physical condition, with particular focus on niggling injuries or areas of pain. Yes, you might get the bad news that you need physiotherapy or even surgery, but it’s better to know than to ignore it and make things worse.
2. Start with a Stationary Bike
When most people think of cycling, they imagine gliding down country lanes or through dense woodland. Outdoor cycling is always going to be more fun, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore stationary bikes. These machines are a great way to safely improve your cycling stamina from the comfort of your own home. Recumbent bikes are particularly good for elderly people, as they take a lot of pressure off the back. If you’re not sure which to buy, check out this list of the best exercise bikes for elderly people.
On a side note, don’t focus entirely on cycling. Mix in some walking and swimming as low-impact alternatives.
3. Choose an Appropriate Outdoor Bike
If you’re using a bike you bought when you were younger, be honest with yourself: is it really the right choice today?
The key is to go for comfort over form. Sure, a road bike that allows you to get into a crouch is great for aerodynamics, but are you likely to be needing this option on a regular basis? Instead, look for a bike that you can cycle on comfortably and without aggravating your joints.
4. Stay Supple
Staying supply is more difficult as you get older, but a good stretching program can still make a difference. It’s especially important to stretch before and after a cycling session to avoid injuries. Speak to your doctor about whether he or she can provide you with a program that keeps you supple yet is suitable for your aches and injuries. This site also has a stretching program for elderly people.
Cycling has a number of incredible benefits – and they aren’t just accessible to young people. Elderly people can benefit from the physical and mental advantages of cycling, but it’s important to be realistic and safe in your approach.