I’ve heard a lot of excuses when I ask people why they don’t try cycling for exercise but the big excuse is age. People think they’re too old to bike and that’s just sad. I see people biking who are much older than me (I’m 63) and they swear by it. Once more, they’re healthier than their non-biking counterparts still getting aerobic exercise well into their 80’s and keeping their cores strong.
That handsome fellow in the featured image next to me is Dave, he’s 83 and still going strong. We’ve been biking together occasionally for the last 2 years after meeting on the trail. After seeing me this year me he told me he was impressed with how I look and how my biking has improved since last year. Music to my ears I worked hard for it.
I have a good friend in Oakland, CA whose approaching 70 and he’s been riding for decades. He belongs to the Yellow Jackets who host rides and more. If you go to the website you’ll see photos of him. He keeps up with the younger riders and is an impressive hill climber
These are but a few people enjoying the benefits of cycling into old age. Biking has kept us all looking good, moving well and thinking fast. Depending on your comfort level and skill set there is a bike out there that will fit you, personality and all. So what’s stopping you?
Your health is everything!
When I think of turning 60 or over I fear the same health problems as most older Americans fear:
- heart problems
- stroke/blood clots
- high blood pressure
- bad joints/wear and tear
- falls/bad balance
- loss of bone density/breaking bones
- being overweight
If you haven’t figured it out already most of these (if not genetic) are caused by being overweight and spending hours sitting. New studies have shown that sitting for hours on end is as bad as smoking cigarettes and even modest exercise may not be good enough to combat it. And that’s not all!
As a fellow American, I think we should be ashamed because we are fat when compared to other countries. Roughly two-thirds of adults, nearly 30% of children are overweight or obese. The numbers continue to rise despite interests in eating better, diet and exercise fads.
Not everyone who has these serious health problems is overweight but the majority are. Even a few extra pounds tipping the scale can be the culprit that’s making you sick. Being heavy can affect many things you wouldn’t think about:
- the way you move
- your mood/depression
- your skin and hair
- your back and joints
- quality of sleep
- energy level
- self worth
In 2015 at 198 pounds and terribly depressed I finally got fed up with myself starting a diet of 1,200 calories a day. I needed both knees replaced and they always hurt. I was having some problems with vertigo, I walked with a cane and couldn’t walk very far. I had a lot of falls.
When I look at this photo it’s still a little painful, I was 30 pounds overweight and covered in fat. When I went to the doctor my heart would be racing and I had to have EKGs. Heart problems were around the corner and my father had adult-onset diabetes.
I needed to lose around 30 more pounds and I had some hard places to lose it in, like my stomach and thighs. I had back fat that looked terrible in a bra and I was desperate to get rid of it. That’s when I dragged out my old Schwinn and decided to ride it every other day. It was the hardest thing I ever did-not riding the bike-but making myself do it.
NOW-Almost 2 years after “getting serious” I’m proud of myself. My hard work paid off and the changes are remarkable. My doctor just told me I don’t necessarily need knee replacement now because it might be a tendon problem (being treated.) I am strong and so is my heart. The only medicine I take is for my thyroid and sometimes a pain pill. My pain and mood have been much better.
I realized that if I could do this by myself that anyone could. I did it by eating good food, working on getting a better nights sleep and riding my bike regularly. I followed my diet and rode my bike every other day increasing my miles per ride. Soon I could ride up hills, go further and with my experience came confidence. It felt great.
You are never too old to ride a bicycle.
During my rides, I meet and see lots of older people on bicycles. Some of them look comfortable but I still see beginners and reflect back on my first months of riding after years of neglect. I may not know them but feel proud of them for being brave and tough enough to get out there and do it.
Always check with your doctor first, but riding a bike is the best way to get in shape especially for older people. It’s the easiest aerobic exercise you can do (sitting on a saddle and moving your legs up and down) and there’s no need to target any body part because it works on your core taking fat off just about everywhere. It’s one of the top calorie burning exercises, you’re playing outside and if done regularly you won’t have to diet again.
A word to all of you not lucky enough to be able to ride year round. There are spin classes (riding a stationary bicycle inside) offered everywhere. There are many kinds of classes to choose from like Soul Cycle and you can find stationary bikes at the gym. Most have recumbent and regular style bikes.
Take your time and start slow.
Remember, I have very bad knees and all it did was make them much better. I can walk 4 miles easy and no more cane or falls. I had problems with my back and once I learned to relax in the saddle that went away too. My heart is strong and my doctors are patting me on the back. I have a new body and attitude.
Don’t be afraid of breaking bones or falling. Take your time and start slow, it took you time to get out of shape and it will take time to get back in shape. You will need to work on your balance, be patient with yourself. Rest on your days off that’s what they’re for. Eat healthy foods and get 7 1/2 to 8 hours of sleep a night. The calorie burn and weight-loss start immediately!
Riding outside is much healthier than spinning yet both have the same results as far as weight loss and muscle building. Getting sunshine is an important source of vitamin D for our bodies and balancing a bicycle while riding is a core strengthening exercise (much needed in older people) you don’t get while spinning. Avoiding bumps and maneuvering a bike is also an important core exercise including strengthening the arms. You have to steer a bicycle that helps the arms and overall our whole bodies get into the act. Not so when spinning.
My rides differ from day to day and I will ride outside even in the rain but if it got too cold for me I’d consider spinning. It’s the next best thing. If you wanted to try spinning before biking outside I’d advise you to just get a bike and ride outside. I’ve found it to be a fountain of youth and so amazing which is why I do this website.
If I could I’d get everyone on a bicycle. You don’t have to hunch over the handlebars or get an expensive bike either. Make sure and get the right bicycle for you and it will be the last weight-loss equipment you’ll ever buy. No matter what age you are. You will thank yourself someday.
Thinner, taller, faster, stronger!