You Are Never Too Old

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:

  • dementia
  • diabetes
  • heart problems
  • hormones
  • 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
  • pain
  • self worth

ME 2016

IMG_20160310_135017

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.

ME 2017

20171102_112217

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!

Advertisements

Health Is The Way To Happiness

When was the last time you felt truly happy and what is it that made you happy? The answer will be different every time it’s asked but there is one answer that will consistently bring you happiness and that is the benefits of good health.

Happy people have younger hearts, younger arteries, and a better outlook on life. Happy people recover more quickly from surgery, cope better with pain, have lower blood pressure, and have longer life expectancy than unhappy people.

Studies also suggest that happy people may have stronger immune systems and are less likely to get colds and flu viruses. If they do get sick it’s not as serious and they get better faster.

Not surprisingly, happy people are better at looking after their health, too. When people’s happiness levels improve, so do their health behaviors. They exercise more, get enough sleep, take better care of their teeth, wear sunscreen, and go for regular checkups.

What else determines happiness?

Genes play a part in your happiness just as they play a part in your general health. Some researchers estimate that as much as 40% to 50% of a person’s capacity for happiness may be genetically predetermined but that doesn’t guarantee a person will live a charmed life.

If you ask someone what makes them happy the answers will be as varied as the people you ask. Winning the lottery, being successful, finding that special person, world peace, and losing weight would be some easy guesses. How long would that keep them happy before they wanted something else?

Everyone wants to be happy and the benefits are clearly plentiful but people aren’t always great at predicting what will make them happy.  Left to our own devices, we tend to focus our energies on things that will give us the greatest instant pleasure. Even when we know better we will ignore the one thing that will bring us lasting happiness because it takes time and personal effort.

Even the gloomiest of us can learn to be happier and good health is the lasting way to happiness. Studies show that a person’s health is one of the strongest predictors of happiness. But the link between health and happiness is complex.

What makes us unhappy?

Adverse changes in health have a negative impact on happiness levels, at least temporarily. Poor health has the potential to significantly affect almost every aspect of your life so it’s no wonder when your health takes a hit so does your happiness. Once we adapt to those changes most people gravitate back to the level of happiness they enjoyed beforehand.

When the change in health status is severe, involving chronic pain or multiple disabilities, the impact on happiness can be long lasting. And both physical health and emotional health influence happiness.

Mental health can make it hard to be happy or do what it takes to be healthy. If you think you may be living with a mood disorder get it treated. Mood disorders diminish the quality of life even more than chronic physical ailments, such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. Appropriate treatment can help reduce your symptoms, increase your sense of well-being, and get you back on track to a happy life.

If you look closely at unhappiness there will always be a reason for it that is linked to our health even if it’s not obvious. Always talk to a doctor for help if you feel that you can’t be happy they can help you find the answer.

What you can do to be healthy and happy?

Find something you like to do that will get you moving and preferably outdoors. Only 10 minutes of sunlight a day will boost your body’s natural response mechanisms to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter which helps to elevate the mood, and melatonin, a hormone which promotes sleep. It promotes healthier attitudes toward diet and exercise and gives us a dose of Vitamin D which can be hard to get from foods alone.

Exercise not only helps keep you healthy but also keeps you happy. In general, increasing the amount of physical activity in your life increases well-being, whether it’s yoga, weight training, or daily walks around the neighborhood. Studies show that people who are active daily usually stay active throughout the day and weigh less than their couch potato counterparts.

Be your healthiest and happiest by eating a balanced diet with lots of fruit and veggies, getting a good night’s sleep, keeping stress levels to a minimum, getting regular checkups, wearing sunscreen, laughing often, moderating alcohol intake, getting plenty of exercise and not smoking.

It may sound like a lot of rules but we have to do so many things in our lives that we have no control over so the good news is when it comes to our health and happiness we can totally do it. Once we learn how to accomplish it there’s nothing better than being healthy, happy and enjoying our lives to the fullest for as long as we can.

schwinn-inner-child

Exercise is the gateway to good health and happiness.

Since I started riding my bike every other day I have been extremely happy and my life is anything but perfect but I’ve never been happier or healthier and it’s a great feeling! I look forward to my rides despite the weather I have more energy than ever before I just feel awesome!

I still need dual knee replacement but by bike riding the Bay Trail every other day, I have improved my knees by a large percentage. I’m no expert but they are so much stronger now and I can walk 4 miles on a good day. I still have a lot of pain but it’s manageable right now. As a side effect daily exercise acts as a natural painkiller in the body. It does!

I used to walk with a cane and my heart used to pound when I had an office visit with my doctor it got pretty bad. They would do EKG’s on me. I was gaining weight, clinically depressed and totally lost on meds. One day I looked in the mirror felt sick at what I saw and decided to change it.

What helped me most was deciding to ride every other day and sticking to it. Even if I bike a few miles as long as I did something. The more I rode the better I got and my riding got. Once the discomfort of getting into shape was over I looked forward to my rides. My doctor now thinks I’m in amazing shape.

I urge you to try riding a bicycle if you’re not already doing so. For me, it didn’t take long to see results. People of all ages can ride and even adults can learn to ride if they don’t know how. Stick to it and give it time, it took me over a year but good things don’t come easy. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I love burning up the calories on a good bike ride.

Bicycle riding is optimal because it’s an aerobic exercise that isn’t hard on the joints and takes your heart rate through the exercise zones needed to strengthen your heart. Riding a bike burns calories at a fast rate as it strengthens your core, improves your balance and sharpens your mind. Admission is only the cost of a good bicycle, some safety gear, and can bring back those feelings you had when you were a child. It can make you happy and can be addicting.

4aab907d374fb0a8874465855f42afc6

Like I said before, good health is a balancing act of exercise, healthy eating, and enough sleep. Exercise, food, and sleep are like the Macros of balance (instead of nutrients). Get it?

source: Some info and artwork was found using Google Search.

The featured image is a photograph of mine I took 6/10/17 at Talbot’s in San Mateo, CA where I bought the bike I own now. They fixed my flat tire I got that day. After I was done with coffee at the library I checked my bike before taking off and discovered my back tire was flat as a pancake. Lucky I could call a taxi company with a minivan to get me and my bike to the shop.

Be healthy, be happy, just be!

Signs You Might Be A Cyclist

You’ve seen “them” riding on their fast bicycles hunched over, no fenders, wearing colorful stretchy biking outfits and zooming by you barely managing a nod. Cyclists!

I swore this would not happen to me as I turned up my nose while riding (sitting up) on my 31-year-old touring style bicycle on the Bay Trail. Of course, in no time I was wearing colorful stretchy (in my case Yoga) pants and UnderArmor wear zooming by people…and nodding.

~gasp~

I was one of “them”!

There are many kinds of bikes to choose from sporting all types of riders but there is a common thread throughout that bonds us together as cyclists. The rituals and quirks that rub off on us as we navigate our lives around our bicycles are all signs that we are becoming cyclists. Isn’t it good to belong?

6-easy-ways-to-embrace-the-cycling-lifestyle

Photo from MapMyFitness

Signs You Might Be A Cyclist

  • You can’t recognize your biking friends when they aren’t wearing colorful stretchy biking outfits.
  • The “check engine” light in your car has been on for months, but the most minor mechanical issue on your bike is fixed first.
  • You have at least one Facebook profile shot of you posing on or next to your bike with a gorgeous landscape behind you.
  • Your bike has a nickname.
  • When your driving you watch out for other riders, you slow down to a near crawl and give them plenty of room. You know what it means to be in that bike lane.
  • You also know what it’s like to use choice words when a vehicle cuts you off or a hater honks and nearly startles you off your bike. (They are out there.)
  • You run errands after your bike rides while wearing your colorful stretchy biking outfits.
  • You spend more time biking spending weekends and planning vacations around bike rides and rides with groups.
  • Stripes on your thighs and ankles, cut-out shapes on the tops of your hands, your colorful stretchy bike outfits tan lines will incite laughter at the beach and pool.
  • You ride to and from work because it’s the fastest way, and you’ve become a pro at changing in the office bathroom.
  • You don’t notice the grease on your clothes or tear in your pants until you’re at that meeting.
  • If you’re a woman, you take better care of your favorite bike clothes than your finest lingerie.
  • If you’re a man, you have smoother legs than your woman.
  • You embrace fluorescent jackets, vests, and shirts. The brighter, the better.
  • You know what it means to do time in the saddle.
  • You’ve felt the shame of having to walk your bike up a hill and the pride of conquering that climb on your bike after a few weeks’ of riding.
  • You have more colorful stretchy biking pants (or shorts) in your laundry basket than jeans.
  • You’re baffled when your roommate or partner doesn’t understand why your bike can’t be stored outside.
  • Some of your hardest falls have happened when you’ve stopped or slowed to a crawl, which doesn’t make sense but happens none-the-less.
  • You take a bad fall with bloody hands and knees, but your first question is whether or not your bike survived.
  • You look and feel better than you have in some time, can’t stop smiling, and have oodles of extra energy.

~large smile~

20171122_152044

For me, dressing to bike is part of the fun. I buy from Fabletics, Under Armor and Ross. Those pants were on sale and made my roommate snicker when he saw them.

d5a2e6397b4a7075c59196bf4c3456a6

You may not have fallen prey to all of the signs yet but I predict you will. If you fall in love with cycling you’ll enrich your health and life becoming stronger with more energy. Welcome to the club!

You’re a cyclist! One of us, one of us, we accept you, we accept you!