While part of the beauty of bikes is that they can be enjoyed at any age, cycling can be especially appealing to the over-50s; not only does it get you from A to B (and cheaply!), it brings a range of health and wellbeing boons too. Here are five reasons to hop on the saddle this summer – and beyond…
Better health and fitness
Regular physical activity makes a big difference to health, lowering the risk of major conditions like heart disease and stroke, certain cancers, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis, as well as improving mental health.
As exercise, cycling ticks lots of boxes, providing both an aerobic (cardio) workout and working muscles.
The workout it gives to the major muscle groups in the legs is great for aerobic exercise, causing the heart rate and respiration to increase in order to supply the muscles.
A Leeds University study commissioned by CTC calculated that, by 2025, if cycling made up 10% of all journeys taken (it currently accounts for 2%), the health benefits would amount to more than £5 million of savings a year. Further research found that people who cycle regularly in mid-adulthood typically have a ‘fitness age’ that’s 10 years younger than their actual age, while people who cycle to work tend to take fewer sick days and live longer.
It’s low impact
Cycling can also be a good option for people with dodgy joints! Of course, this depends on the severity and nature of your joint problems (and warming up properly beforehand is essential), but if other activities like strenuous walking and jogging have become difficult due to joint pain, a low-impact option like cycling is worth checking out.
If you suffer with joint problems, cycling could well be for you. Due to taking the body’s weight off the legs, there’s much less pressure on your joints – especially in comparison to running.
It gets you outdoors
There really is nothing like getting outdoors into nature and the fresh air – and on a bike is the perfect way to do this. Studies have found that people who regularly spend time in nature tend to report greater levels of happiness and vitality. Similarly, it’s recognised that our environment can impact on our moods and wellbeing – so it’s little surprise if spending time somewhere green and serene leaves you feeling calmer and less stressed.
Even if you live in an urban area, are there pockets of green nearby you could escape to? There are countless cycle routes across the UK that will enable cyclists to immerse themselves in the great outdoors while avoiding traffic and busy roads.
A new way to see the world
Activity-based holidays don’t just help you keep fit and well, they’re also a great way of seeing the world and being truly immersed in the scenery - and there are endless cycling holidays to choose from.
“We cater for a wide range of ages, but over-50s are more or less our core business,” says Phil Catchpole of UK Cycle Holidays. “There’s a real appeal for this age group; people often say things like, ‘Well, we’ve done a few walking holidays but my knees aren’t so great any more, so we cycle now!’
“The nicest reward we get is meeting with guests after they’ve completed their cycling tour, they’ve had a few days exploring on the bikes and they’re full of enthusiasm and feeling great.”
A touch of adventure
It’s not just those ‘feel-good’ endorphins from all the exercise and fresh air that leaves people on a high after a good bike ride. “It’s a little bit of adventure too,” adds Catchpole. “With a cycling holiday, there may be a little bit of map reading, and that sense of having to get to the next hotel – come rain or shine! That taste of adventure is really rewarding.”
The same goes for a day out in the saddle with friends or a local cycling group, exploring the local area in a new and exciting way.