Cycling for older adults has always been considered in two ways; whether it is safe or whether it is a great form of exercise. To begin with, cycling is the use of bicycles for exercise, sport or for moving around from place to place. It is a convenient way of exercising and transporting at the same time. Older Adults are called seniors usually around the ages fifty-five to sixty years and above. With age comes several changes to the body; a major concern is the health risks faced by older adults.
Several surveys have been carried out to measure the participation of seniors in cycling and results show that seniors not only cycle for exercise and transport, they also register for cycling events. Here are some benefits of cycling for older adults.
Benefits of Cycling For Older Adults
Exercises have always been emphasized for older adults to keep their bodies active. As seniors age, the amount of activities they carry out becomes reduced and more exercises are required, however not all exercises are safe for older adults due to the vigor and strength required to carry out and continue the exercises. Cycling is a low impact form of exercise that does not require full-blown strength but still exercises the full body without much stress.
Improves Mental Health
cycling increases blood flow to the brain and encourages cell regrowth in the hippocampus which results in improved memory.
Good for the Heart and Lungs
A weak heart is another health risk and cycling helps to keep the blood flowing and the heart pumping, the body also requires more oxygen as you cycle resulting in working your lungs as well without putting too much pressure on your heart and lungs.
Stress and anxiety reduction
Another benefit of cycling for older adults is stress reduction. Cycling stimulates the release of endorphins which gives a euphoric feeling and helps reduce the level of cortisol which leads to a reduction in stress and anxiety.
Cycling is a good way to maintain a healthy weight. Pedaling not only works the legs, the hand and whole body is used when cycling. It helps tone your muscles and burns excess fat in the body thereby giving the body a healthy weight which helps fight off diabetes and other weight-related diseases.
Cycling helps build your full body strength and keeps your body healthy which ensures a longer life.
Older adults can also use cycling as a source of fun and bonding with others. Cycling in groups and with friends is sure to be a moment to look forward to for older adults.
Risk of Cycling For Older Adults
Cycling for older adults is very beneficial to their physical and mental wellbeing, however, there are certain risks involved in cycling for older adults which can be avoided. Here are some of those risks;
As age sets in so does reduced senses of most human beings, some adults are lucky enough to retain their sight one hundred percent while most deteriorate with the passage of time. Sight is important for cycling and should be checked before getting on a bicycle.
Another important part of cycling is reading the traffic signs and symbols, sight is also important for this and so is understanding those signs. Traffic signs, symbols, and warnings continually change over time and it is important to stay abreast of all new signs before getting on the road for any cycling trip.
This is one of the reasons for choosing cycling as a great form of exercise and should be watched at the beginning. Older adults are bound to build up their body strength but should watch out for how much they can take from the start and increase gradually on their cycling as time goes on.
Cycling requires a lot of stability and balancing, this can be a bit difficult for older adults and may result in falling off the bicycle and leading to severe injuries.
Fatigue and tiredness is a common part of getting older which leads to reduced activities. Overstretching is a possible risk of cycling for older adults especially when overstretched due to the excitement of starting something new and fun.
Important Things to Know About Cycling For Older Adults
Choosing cycling for older adults has several benefit and here are some tips to ensure it is a safe experience;
- Vision checks – a visit to your optician/ophthalmologist is advised and should be done as often as needed. Before selecting other important things regarding cycling, knowing you can trust your vision is very important.
- Helmet – this is another very important part of cycling which tops the list because of its level of importance. Choosing the right kind of helmet has been known to prevent about eighty-five percent of cycling injuries including fatal head injuries.
- For outdoor cycling – the terrain is very important and should be scoped and if you choose to use cycling as a mode of transportation, always check out for bicycle-friendly routes. Knowing your terrain helps you understand how well you would need to maneuver and how safe it is to go out.
- Bicycle – there are several types of bicycles both for indoor exercising and outdoor exercising or transportation. There are also bicycles that are safe for older adults. Always choose the right bicycles for either indoor or outdoor and also put your body size and weight into consideration when choosing one.
- Safety equipment – other items like elbow and knee pads should also be gotten to keep the body from severe injuries in case there is a fall.
- Weather – only go out in safe weathers and choose indoor cycling for bad weathers.
- Signals – take out time to understand the cycling signs and also the hand signals to ensure safety at all times.
The benefits of cycling for older adults cannot be under-emphasized despite its inherent risks. It is important to be properly prepared and well equipped before starting on a cycling journey for older adults.