exercise

Cycling: One of the Most Beneficial Exercises for Seniors

Cyclists over the age of 60 account for one third of the increase in bike ridership over the past 20 years. Older adults who get a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, such as cycling, lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Exercise also promotes emotional wellbeing and improves cognitive function, preventing the development of conditions like dementia and late-life depression.

With age, it’s important to find safe ways to keep active, and cycling provides a low-impact workout that is easy on the joints and promotes better balance. As you adjust your exercise routine to accommodate changes that come with age,  consider the variety of benefits cycling has to offer.

Photo by  Fernando Meloni  

Photo by Fernando Meloni 

Cycling Gets You Out in Nature 

Getting outdoors is great for your physical and mental health. Sunlight boosts your body’s vitamin D supply, which is important for maintaining healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis. Spending time outside can also promote better sleep, by sinking your body’s natural circadian rhythm to cycles of day and night. People over the age of 65 especially benefit from the melatonin regulating effects of sun exposure. Just be sure to wear sunscreen and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes from UV rays whenever you go for a bike ride. 

Cycling Can Make a Great Social Activity

Keeping your heart healthy with daily exercise is one the most effective tools for preventing dementia, and biking with a friend or group of friends can bolster the positive effects. Socialization helps keep the mind active and engaged, combating memory loss and other cognitive challenges that may come with aging. Biking is a sport that naturally lends itself towards building community and connecting with others. Taking a ride with a friend gives you the chance to talk, laugh and challenge each other.

Staying Active and Independent

Bicycles not only provide an excellent form of exercise, they can also be a great way to get around town. Riding a bicycle is an environmentally friendly alternative to driving, and gives you an opportunity to interact with your surroundings in new ways. On your bike, you may discover landmarks, restaurants, businesses and people you would have otherwise overlooked. Substituting just one five mile car ride for a bike ride instead also helps burn more calories, strengthens muscles and improves bone density, all while getting you where you want to go.

Riding a bike can be liberating and exhilarating, making you feel like a kid again. Many people who typically avoid exercise can still find something to love about riding a bike. If you’re an older adult, you can find fun and safe ways to incorporate cycling into your fitness plan.

Please share any advice you have on stay healthy and fit with age!!!

It's All In The Hips

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Boosting Hip Strength for Cyclists

We’re all aware that cycling has a great effect on our physical health but as research is consistently proving, it also has a positive effect on our mental health too. While some of us cycle to get fit, for many of us, we ride simply because it makes us happy and helps improve our mood. Whatever the reason you enjoy cycling, it’s likely that you feel pain or tightness after a ride so if you want a fitter, stronger and leaner body, it’s important to keep all your muscles toned.

The stiffness that is often felt originates from the hip rotator muscles which are hidden under the glutes and is down to our hips never being open while we’re on a bike: as our legs go up and down, we never straighten enough to open up our hip joints. Subsequently, the strength in our hips are paramount to boost cycling power and limiting the strain on the lower back so it’s beneficial to do stretches to improve our physique and contribute to our well being..

Incorporating these exercises into any hip-flexor fitness regime to loosen tight hips will help develop your strength to generate maximum power with minimum strain.

#1 Activating the glutes muscles

Due to us spending a great deal of time sitting down, our glute muscles have a tendency to not function as well as they could. A reaction to this is that other muscles, namely our lumbar extensors and hamstrings, are called upon to the job of hip extension.

Lie down on the floor on your back with your legs bent and raise one leg. Pushing your hips from the floor, focus on contracting the muscles of your glutes while keeping the toes of your lifted leg upwards. Alternate legs as a pre-warm up.

#2 Power Bridge

This is designed to stretch the hip flexors whereby the bridge strengthens the connection between your glutes and lower back.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your heels close to your glutes. Arms should be at your sides with your palms down. Push your hips off the floor, tighten your glutes and push up from your heels. Keep toes raised and lower yourself downwards to complete the rep. Hold for a couple of seconds and repeat.

#3 The low lunge

This exercise is an important stretch for hip flexors and also effectively works for stretching the upper thighs.Position yourself on all fours - you might like to place cushions under your knees. Step up your right leg between your hand and raise your upper body. With your bottom tucked in, slowly slide forwards into the lunge position. When you can feel the stretch - at the top of the leg where it joins the front of the hip - stop and repeat.

Needless to say, stretching is paramount, so make sure to never skip this part. Here’s to many more great bike rides.

 

Have any hip strengthening exercises that have worked for you? Share below!

Everyday Cadence: The Fact of the Grey Matter

Welcome to Everyday Cadence - our first person account of daily rhythms on two wheels. 

Join Dara on her tube travels through time and space in and around NYC. A writer with a penchant for social justice, Dara is committed to making the world a better place  - whether it’s by adding more bike lanes, advocating for human and animal rights, building community through arts and culture, or just giving back.

Read what's on her mind and join the conversation with your own cadence recollection. 

On most days (save ice storms, rainstorms, sub-28-degree weather, or the “business” meeting that requires me to pretend that I’m an “adult”), I wake up, get dressed, toss a bag on my back, and a helmet on my head.

Then, I mount a thin piece of steel on wheels lined with rubber, and head out into the streets of New York City.

Instinctively, I’m dodging parents walking their kids, cars pulling out of parking spots, trucks unloading their morning bread and milk, buses meandering to their next stop,  passengers hailing cabs, cabs picking up passengers, doors swinging open, potholes, gravel, discarded everything, food carts, and, of course, other bikes competing for a small designated space.

There’s a lot going on.

Perhaps, I’m nuts. Perhaps, I’m flirting with danger. But I feel very, very alive.

As someone who grew up in NYC dodging cars and crowds on the streets (and perverts on the subways), it is second nature to bob and weave my way throughout the City.

And on my bike, I’m tackling the streets in a way that no pedestrian, car or bus-rider could. I’m feeling the rhythm of the traffic and flow in a way that is both necessary and impossible to miss. When I ride, I plot my route, I anticipate danger (best possible), and I am ready to respond.

Thanks to biking, over the years, I’ve gotten better at doing so -- and science even proves it.

Cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus – the “grey matter” in your head that involves muscle control, sensory perception like seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. Sadly, this region deteriorates from the age of 30.

Luckily, regular physical activity can help keep thinking, learning and judgment sharp. Aerobic exercise helps maintain adequate blood flow, which supplies the brain with a steady stream of oxygen and nutrients (things we need).

And, in fact, researchers from the University of Illinois found that a five percent improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness from cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 percent in mental tests.

In other words: cycling is more than physically healthy for you. It makes your brain work better.

The thing is, we don’t always need science to tell us what we feel.

Sure, I’ve had some foibles, but riding has improved my instincts and my reflexes. This translates into how I am in life: I’m trying to figure it all out, while staying the course. I’m increasingly aware of my surroundings, the people, and the nature (if limited) around me. I see how things work, and don’t work together. I’m trying to survive. Ideally, I’m smiling.

When I’m on the road bumping elbows (or pedals) with cars, trucks, pedestrians, crossing guards, and pigeons--all sharing some torn up asphalt for a short bit of time--I am most definitely woke.

So, while I may be just a teensy bit nuts to get on a bike everyday in a city known for its, shall we say, aggression, the fact of the grey matter is that both my body and my brain are in great shape.