Hopping on a bicycle might not be the first thing you think of when someone says “activities for seniors”, but cycling has more to offer than you might think.
Riding a bicycle for about 2.5 hours each week can help improve your heart health, muscular strength, and even help your brain function!
Check out these amazing benefits of bike riding for seniors, and learn what you might be missing out on!
What Benefits Does Bike Riding Offer Seniors?
Exercise and Health Benefits
Cycling burns about 300 calories per hour. It won’t happen overnight, but you can lose weight by riding a bike.
If you’ve struggled with weight issues for a long time or have just noticed your weight increasing in recent years, grab a bike and get moving! The calories you burn while riding your bike won’t be accompanied by feelings of soreness and fatigue; rather, you’ll feel refreshed and invigorated!
Walking and running have a large impact on the knees; as seniors age, they need all the relief they can get.
Cycling is a low-impact exercise that can actually strengthen your knee joints rather than wear them down by improving the muscles surrounding them.
If you’ve noticed that your daily walks leave you sorer than refreshed, you may want to consider switching to cycling to stay in shape without risking further knee damage!
Riding your bike gets you direct exposure to sunlight, something that many people take for granted. Getting proper amounts of vitamin D, which comes from sunlight, has many health benefits: a boosted immune system, mood, and may even extend your life! If you’ve been stuck inside more often than you’d like, hop on a bike and take a nice sunny cruise- you’ll be surprised by how much a little vitamin D can brighten your spirits!
Aside from giving you increased stamina, riding a bike lowers your risk of both heart disease and cancers by more than 40%! Cardiovascular health is a concern for many seniors, and cycling for 30 minutes, just a few times per week, can drastically reduce your risk of serious disease.
Cycling also lowers your blood pressure, which helps to reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you’ve had a history of high blood pressure, even riding a stationary bicycle inside your home can help keep your blood pressure where it needs to be and allow you to live a healthier life.
Strength and Muscle Mass
As you age, your muscles deteriorate; regular exercise is recommended to help reduce this. Cycling is a low-impact way to keep your muscles strong. If you are looking for ways to stay healthy but are concerned about your knees and hips, cycling is the best option for you.
Balancing on a bike is something that nearly everyone learns at a young age; however, most people stop cycling in adolescence in favor of driving. Over the years, the balance you’ve built up will fade. Balance issues trouble many seniors, causing yearly falls and accidents in more than 30% of elderly adults.
Riding a bike as part of your health and wellness routine teaches your body to balance and respond to sudden changes much better than other forms of exercise. Adopting a cycling hobby can help you keep your balance as you age and prevent falls and accidents.
Lack of quality sleep is something that affects many seniors; over time, not getting enough sleep can have negative effects on your mental health and physical well-being.
Getting regular exercise helps your body achieve a balance and rhythm that promotes good sleep. There are many things you can do if you want to get better sleep - get a new mattress, a new bed, or get tested for sleep apnea - but a solid exercise routine is one of the most effective.
Mental and Emotional Benefits
Exercise has a profound effect on your mood; regular exercise routines correspond to increased feelings of happiness and lowered stress. It increases your brain’s production of serotonin, the chemical responsible for happiness. It may seem like worn-out advice, but regular exercise can increase your sense of happiness and decrease feelings of loneliness and melancholy.
Loneliness isn’t talked about much in today’s world, but it is something that’s felt by millions of seniors. As you age, your social circles tend to shrink, which corresponds to increased feelings of loneliness. It’s not just a “bummer”, though - loneliness is linked to a 30% increase in mortality.
Cycling and other exercise activities are naturally social - you can join a fitness class for seniors or get connected to a cycling group in your area. Isolation is dangerous for any person but it is especially so for the elderly. If you are living alone and are longing for some human connection, seek out some new friends to join you on a bike ride- it’ll be good for you in more ways than one!
Is Cycling Dangerous for Seniors?
While it is true that riding a bike isn’t the safest activity on earth, you need not worry too much about safety. Accidents on bikes happen when obstacles and traffic interrupt your riding; if you ride only in places where cycling is promoted or where there are few cars/pedestrians, biking is one of the safer exercises.
Doctors encourage cycling in seniors because of the many benefits, despite the fact that an accident on a bicycle can be quite serious. It is recommended that you ride only in safe places, wear a helmet, and avoid riding at high speeds. If you still feel that riding outdoors may not be a good idea, indoor cycling on a stationary bike gives you all the same benefits from within your home!
Final Thoughts: Cycling Benefits for Seniors
Cycling is a wonderful way to exercise. It gives seniors a low-impact, enjoyable way to stay in shape, reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases, and even meet new friends. Have you tried bike riding for exercise? Do you still have any reservations or more questions about the benefits of bike riding for elderly people? Let us hear your thoughts below!