Bike riding offers physical health benefits for all stages of life including improving heart health, reducing the risk of cancer and lowering obesity.
However, currently more than 50% of people over the age of 60 are not physically active enough for good health. We’re keen to convince you to start riding to enjoy the physical health benefits that bike riding offers.
Physical Activity Levels For 60+
Current Australia guidelines recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, or preferably all days.
If you find 30 minutes difficult right now, you can start with just 10 minutes once or twice a day. After 2 weeks, increase to 15 minutes twice a day.
The guidelines also encourage you to reduce the time you spend sitting down – break that time up as often as you can.
Benefits of Keeping Active
Meeting your recommend physical activity requirements can help:
- reduce the risk of health issues, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, bone and joint problems, heart disease and some cancers
- maintain a healthy weight
- reduce the risk of falls and injury
- give you more energy
- improve your sleep
- reduce stress and anxiety
- improve concentration
- improve your mental health.
Benefits of Bike Riding
Bike riding has so many benefits and below we’ve listed just a few.
Heart health is crucial, as issues with the heart can lead to strokes, high blood pressure and even heart attacks.
When riding a bike your body requires more oxygen which forces the heart to beat harder to ensure your cells are properly oxygenated. The heart makes sure your body has enough energy to keep going but remember not to overdo it, listen to your body and do not push too hard. Over time, your heart will become stronger from your continued bike riding and reduce your risk of stroke, high blood pressure and heart attacks.
Additionally, riding a bike does help to reduce blood fat levels, strengthen the heart muscles and lowers the rest pulse rate.
Studies have shown that people who regularly ride a bike, compared to driving or catching public transport, have a 46% lower risk of developing and a 52% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 45% lower risk of developing and a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer.
Reduce Risk Of Cancer
Studies have long proven that exercise can reduce your risk of developing cancer, this is because being overweight or obese is a risk factor for many types of cancer including postmenopausal breast and colorectal cancers.
When bike riding you can burn up to 1,200 kilojoules (about 300 calories) per hour which can help you stay within a healthy weight range.
With 1 hour of daily cycling the risk reduction of developing cancer is about 20% and for 90 minutes this increases to 45%.
We recommend starting on short bike rides (10 minutes) and slowly working up to longer rides (30 minutes +) to ensure you are not pushing your body too hard.
As we age, our bodies lose muscle tone and strength, however bike riding can help.
When riding a bike, you are using muscles throughout your whole body - your legs to keep the bike moving, your core to keep your body upright and your arms to help support yourself and steer.
If seniors stop being physically active, muscle loss speeds up, so the key is to stay active.
This study shows that people between 55 and 79 who rode a bike regularly, compared to those who didn’t, had:
- preserved muscle mass and strength
- maintained stable levels of body fat with better cholesterol levels
- higher testosterone levels in men.
Many falls in older age are due to the decline in balance, and this physical decline has been well documented. However bike riding offers hope.
Recent studies have shown that balance in bike riders is better on average than non cyclists. In this study, cyclists balanced on one leg for 62 seconds longer on average than non-cyclists.
As bike riding isn’t a load bearing activity, it makes it a great form of exercise for seniors or anyone with any joint stiffness or osteoarthritis.
Studies show that increased bike riding can significantly reduce joint pain, stiffness, and physical limitation. One study based on 45 minutes a day over three days a week for middle-aged and older adults showed that maximal handgrip strength, isokinetic knee extension and flexion power increased by 15-30% in people with osteoarthritis.
Cycling can help to improve muscular strength and overall help with joint stiffness.
Come and join the bike riding community today and enjoy many of these benefits - no matter your age.