Bicycling and Fitness for Seniors

Bicycling, like walking is a wonderful, simple form of exercise that you can do almost anywhere, anytime. They are both great aerobic exercises that strengthen the cardiovascular system as well as muscles and bones. Pedaling is actually better than walking in some ways. It will burn considerably more calories in the same time period.

Getting optimum benefits requires attention to pace and time. Cranking pace should be a minimum of 60 crank revolutions per minute and can go to over 90. Staying in the 60 range is good for the long haul and easy to maintain. Nearly all modern bikes are multi speed so you just switch gears until the 60 RPM is comfortable. The amount of time spent pedaling should be at least a half hour a day, five or six days a week. Like walking, more is better. A half hour twice a day is slightly more beneficial than an hour at a time but either choice is early optimum for this exercise.

Health Benefits of Bicycling

  • Exercises the heart better than walking if done intensely.
  • Great for weight control thus reducing the chance of diabetes.
  • Reduces the chances of strokes and heart attacks caused by clotting.
  • Lowers high blood pressure and the diseases related to it.
  • Reduces the cholesterol levels in the blood.
  • Increases the high density lipo-protein/cholesterol ratio in the blood as well.
  • Strengthens the lungs through deep breathing of fresh air
  • Improves balance and hand eye coordination
  • Strengthens legs and exercises joints.
  • Gives one an appreciation of the outdoors and nature when done in the right environment.

Bicycles come in a variety of sizes and shapes. If you are buying one for the first time, go to a reliable dealer. Once they understand your intended use they can make recommendations and fit your size and other requirements to the ideal two wheeler. Three general categories make up the majority of the market.

Road...Designed for long rides and speed on pavement, have thin tires and a light frame. Handlebars are low, requiring a nearly horizontal back position. Probably not desirable for older riders.

Mountain...Designed for off roading, they have fatter tires, heavier frame, and handlebars usually well above the crossbar. In riding position the back is more vertical, often above 45 degrees. Some of these can be very comfortable for older riders.

Hybrid...Designed for general use, tires are medium thickness for both paved and off road surfaces. Handlebar location and seat types make for quite comfortable riding positions. Good choice for senior riders.

There is also a thing called recumbent, in which the seat is chair-like and close to the ground. The crank is out in front so that the legs are parallel to the ground when pedaling. While the vertical back position seems desirable there are several other trade offs. Worth looking into.

Once you get into pedaling, fresh air, and the great outdoors, you might want to look for new places to enjoy. Utah and Colorado are two of the most beautiful and bicycle friendly states in the country. I can tell you from experience that the views, the pedaling, the cool,clear air make for a most exhilarating experience.

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