Harvard on resuming bike riding

This seems particularly timely as I wrote about my own cycling – Riding a bike on Chicago’s Lakefront on Chicago’s Lakefront yesterday.

The Harvard Health Publications has a nice positive blog post on starting cycling again presumably as a senior.

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor of the Harvard Health Letter, states that she loved riding as a kid, but now only rides occasionally.


“It’s fun, it’s socially oriented, and it gets you outside and exercising,” says Dr. Clare Safran-Norton, a physical therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Plus, cycling is an aerobic activity, it’s easy on the joints, and it helps build muscle and bone.

I would like to second that positive sentiment adding that while it is easy on the joints, it is NOT weight bearing exercise and does NOT strengthen the bones. Women, who are more vulnerable to osteoporosis, need to make sure that they are also getting weight bearing exercise as a safeguard to keep their bones strong.

The blog post continues, “Fortunately, bike manufacturers are responding to meet riders’ needs. One option is the step-through bike, a two-wheeler with a low or absent top tube. “I get emails from people who tell me they’re riding for the first time in 20 years,” says Tony Biria of Biria Bicycles, which in 2002 introduced a bicycle to the U.S. with a top tube that’s just six inches off the ground. Beach cruisers and comfort bikes are also popular among older cyclers. All three of these bike types feature high-rise handlebars that enable you to sit upright; wide tires for a smooth ride; shock-absorbing seat posts; and lower top tubes.”

Of course, no one should start a new exercise program without checking with your doctor. “If you have osteoporosis, consider riding a tricycle, which is more stable than a two-wheeler, posing less of a fall risk. I’d advise that you don’t ride a bike if you’ve had a recent fracture. Another fall could make it worse,” says Dr. Safran-Norton.

Ms. Godman concludes with a series of helpful tips:

 •    wear a helmet
    •    don’t use clips to keep your feet on the pedals, which can make injuries worse if you fall
    •    don’t ride alone
    •    stick to bike paths instead of the street
    •    stay hydrated before, during, and after your ride
    •    and use sunscreen and sunglasses.

To which I would add that second in importance only to the bike helmet is a good pair of cycling gloves. This is especially relevant if you haven’t ridden in a while because if you take a fall, you are going to put your hands out in front of you to protect yourself. If you don’t have on a good padded pair of cycling gloves you are liable to shred up your hands badly. An ounce of prevention …

Here is a link for the Bontrager crochet gloves which I wear. They cost less than $20. This is what they look like:


You can see the full padding on the palms.


1 Comment

Filed under aging, cardio exercise, cycling, regular bike riding, safe biking, Weight

One response to “Harvard on resuming bike riding

  1. I do love it when people who have no idea what they’re talking about make recommendations about what others should avoid. Clipless pedals are the greatest technological advance to cycling in the last hundred years, followed closely by integrated brake lever shifters.

    Clipless pedals, on the right person’s bike make cycling vastly safer as ones feet can’t slip off the pedals. I ride with dozens of seniors who wouldn’t sling a leg over a top tube without theirs.

    Liked by 1 person

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