Harvard on resuming bike riding

I know that we are late in September and a lot of folks will be putting away their bikes ‘for the season.’ I ride year ’round here in Chicago and enjoy it. If you are one of those who haven’t ridden in a while and would like to take up a super form of exercise, I hope you will consider cycling. There are still a few good weeks left before the cold sets in. You can get started now.

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.

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“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 Planet Bike crochet gloves that I wear. They cost less than $20. This is what they look like:

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You can see the full padding on the palms.

Last, but not least, whether you take up cycling again now, or not, please reconsider the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. I think it is more damaging to your overall health than smoking cigarettes. Check our my Page – The dangers of prolonged sitting.

Tony

5 Comments

Filed under aging, biking, Exercise, exercise benefits, Harvard Health Publications, safe biking, successful aging

5 responses to “Harvard on resuming bike riding

  1. That’s a brilliant post, Tony, and one that I fully subscribe to. The only thing I can’t manage is to ride with a group. We do have a group of neighbours going riding together but I tend to want to go at short notice and ride different rides depending on my mood! And the only bike accident I had, which put me in hospital, was in a group!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Paul. Much appreciated. Actually, I share your sentiments. All my rides are solo (not counting my pooch in her basket). I have the same reasons, I like to go where I feel like at the moment. Also, for the past two years, I have had a blue tooth speaker on my waterbottle and can listen to my own ‘biking playlist’ from my phone. Lastly, my Apple watch is a help. I had a fall a couple of months ago where I went over the handle bars. The watch immediately asked me if I was all right or did I need it to call emergency help. I let it know that I did not need help, but was gratified to know that it was available. Have a great Sunday!

      Like

  2. I am impressed that you ride year round in Chicago!

    Liked by 1 person

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