As you get older, your mobility may be limited. Medical conditions such as arthritis can impair your ability to perform the same types of exercise as you used to. Cycling increases your heart rate but minimizes wear and tear on your body. Still, we have some tips for safeguarding your joints and staying safe while cycling.
Protect Your Knees
Form is important when you’re pedaling. Keeping your knees stable can help you gain more power in your pedal stroke and prevent them from aching when you’ve finished your ride.
If you look at yourself head-on as you ride, you should see a straight line from your shin to your thigh. When your knee rolls inward or pushes outward, the kneecap doesn’t glide smoothly. This could cause problems with your cartilage, especially if you’re already dealing with inflammation.
Keeping your seat farther back can also improve your knee mobility. Sitting too close to the handlebars changes the angle of your knees, potentially causing discomfort as you cycle.
Keep Your Bike In Good Shape
Are you still using the same bike that you used 40 years ago? Make sure that it’s in top condition when you ride. Having it examined and maintained by a professional will help prevent accidents from equipment malfunction.
You should also have an expert assess the bike’s fit. A bicycle that isn’t the right size for you can pose a safety issue and cause undue aches and pains.
If you are using an older bike, you might want to look into purchasing a newer model. Modern bicycles may be lighter and easier to maneuver than older, clunky ones.
You might also want to trade out the seat. A wider saddle will help you stay more comfortable and improve your balance.
Try An Electric Bike
If you need an added boost while you ride, consider using an electric bicycle. These bikes can propel you even if you don’t pedal, but that won’t give you the aerobic exercise that you’re going for. The best way to use an electric bike is to allow it to assist you as you push the pedals.
This can take some of the load off, especially if you’re fatigued. Electric bikes can also help you maneuver through obstacles, such as steep hills.
Ride With Friends
Although exercise is one way to help ward off age-related cognitive decline, so is socialization. Researchers are finding that social interactions can delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease. It also reduces the likelihood of social withdrawal, anxiety and depression. Socializing can even improve your self-confidence, which helps you experience a better quality of life as you age.
If you can’t talk your friends into riding with you, consider joining a bike club. You’ll meet new people and have more motivation to get out there.
Take It Easy
Don’t push yourself too hard while you’re cycling. Choose a route that’s not too strenuous, and don’t ignore the pain. You can improve your endurance and skill by listening to your body and gradually increasing your distance, effort and speed. Check with your doctor if you’re not sure whether cycling is safe for your health.
Dealing With Balance Concerns
If balance is an issue, consider taking a spinning class or riding a stationary bike in a gym, a fitness center or your own living room. Ask for help mounting and dismounting the bicycle if you need it. Once you’re on the bike, keep it at a level that allows you to pedal easily without having to shift your weight. You can also try activities like yoga to supplement your cycling. This will help with balance.
A recumbent bike or tricycle can also give you the cycling experience that you want without worrying about falling. Recumbent bikes take the load off of your rear end, your hands and your back. Tricycles give you stability so that you don’t have to be apprehensive about maintaining equilibrium.
All cyclists should follow the rules of the road and look out for drivers and obstacles. However, if your vision has declined with age, you might want to take extra precautions. Visit your eye doctor regularly, and wear glasses or contacts if you need them to enhance your vision.
Staying on bike paths that are separated from the roadway can help you remain safe. Choosing paved areas instead of dirt paths can also ensure a smooth ride.
Riding during the day is safer than riding at night even if you have a light or reflectors. Wear bright clothing and a helmet.
Fuel Your Body
Even if you were able to exercise on an empty stomach when you were younger, your body is less forgiving now than it used to be. You might feel dizzy or lightheaded if you don’t fuel up before a ride.
Make sure to consume carbohydrates before you get on a bike. You might even want to bring snacks along with you in case you begin to feel weak. Eating a balanced diet can also improve your cycling performance as you age.
Staying hydrated is also important. Attach a water bottle to your bike or wear a hydration backpack to get sips in while you’re riding without compromising your balance.
Take Rest Seriously
Your body will perform better when you’re getting enough rest. This means that you should be taking care to get plenty of high-quality sleep. If you’re cycling hard a few days a week, make sure that you take some days off. Exhaustion can affect your physical and mental performance, making you more likely to be involved in an accident or suffer an injury.
Whether you’re just getting into cycling or have been participating in the activity for years, don’t assume that you have to stop just because you’re getting older. In fact, if you don’t usually get on a bike, it’s never too late to start.