7 Reasons It’s NEVER Too Late to Start Cycling

Older woman cycling on bike down street

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Imagine cruising down the streets on your bicycle, the wind in your hair, and a smile on your face.

For those who already know the joys of cycling, this isn’t some far-fetched dream reserved for the young, fit, or athletic, but it is one of the bonuses of enjoying life on two wheels.

In this article, we’ll demonstrate that cycling has no age limits and that some extraordinary benefits are associated with cycling, which becomes even more apparent as you age.

So, let’s throw aside any preconceived notions about cycling and cyclists, broaden our minds, and seriously consider two wheels. If you think it’s too late to start cycling and seeing the benefits, we promise you’ll feel differently by the end of this article.

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Isn’t Cycling Just For The Young, Fit and Healthy?

Before we get into the benefits of cycling, particularly later in life, let’s get one misconception out of the way. For most people, age poses no obstacle when it comes to cycling.

If there’s one country that’s shown this, it’s the Netherlands. Anyone who’s visited the country can tell you they’ve seen people of all ages cycling, from toddlers to pensioners and beyond!

While we can’t all be so fortunate to enjoy the cycling culture and excellent bike infrastructure that the Dutch have, there’s a lesson to be learned: the earlier you start, the longer you’ll be cycling. Cycling isn’t just something for the young and fit, but can (and should!) be enjoyed by everyone.

Friends cycling together

But How Can I Get Started?

Perhaps you’re thinking about how to get started. For those who never learned how to ride a bike, or who’ve spent a long time off of one, it can feel a bit daunting.

First, you’ll want to start with a comfortable bicycle that suits your needs. For most people, an upright bike with a step-through frame is a great, comfortable choice. If in doubt, you can always go to your local bike shop for guidance.

Next, you’ll want to start slow and gradually build your strength. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but with a few short rides around your neighbourhood, your confidence and strength will soon be on the rise.

After that, you can begin to explore! One of the great things about cycling is the freedom it brings you, allowing you to enjoy your surroundings at a pace that suits you. You should also consider reaching out to other people you know with bikes. It’s a great excuse to catch up with an old friend!

If you’re not convinced yet, then here are 7 of the top benefits of cycling into older age that show that it’s never too late to start cycling.

older man heart issue

1. The Heart

Did you know that cycling is really good for the heart? 

With age comes a greater risk of heart disease, but cycling is one way to counter this via a healthy heart.

Firstly, as an aerobic exercise that increases your heart rate, it can improve cardiovascular fitness. Regular cycling strengthens the heart muscle, meaning that it can pump blood more efficiently throughout the body.

Secondly, it’s been shown to lower blood pressure, which is extremely important for heart health. Even semi-regular cycling can significantly decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. However, cycling doesn’t just benefit the heart.

Fit older man

2. Improved Muscle Strength and Endurance

As we age, we all aspire to maintain independence and to continue to perform our daily activities with a regular degree of ease.

Maintaining our muscle strength, as well as our endurance, is crucial for this, and cycling can be a great way to gently build muscle.

When you cycle, your leg muscles work against the resistance of the pedals. This resistance helps to build and strengthen, most notably, the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes. But these aren’t muscles that are only useful for cycling; they’re essential in day-to-day activities, particularly walking. In this manner, cycling can help improve other aspects of your day-to-day life.

Ageing is also associated with a gradual loss of muscle mass or Sarcopenia. According to one study published in the US National Library of Medicine, this deterioration may be as much as 8% per decade between the ages of 30 and 60, with that number rising significantly beyond that range. Regular cycling, however, can help to slow down this loss by preserving the strength and function of the muscles.

3. Good For The Joints

As we grow older, it’s common to find ourselves moving and exercising less, which often leads to feelings of stiffness and joint pain. This discomfort can sometimes make us hesitant to engage in physical activities. However, research indicates that this reduced movement significantly contributes to the joint pain and stiffness we might be experiencing.

Now, here’s where cycling comes in as a game-changer. Cycling is a form of exercise that’s easy on the joints, providing a low-impact workout. Unlike high-impact activities, such as running, cycling doesn’t put excessive stress on your joints, making it an excellent option for those seeking to maintain or improve their mobility without causing additional discomfort.

Engaging in regular cycling can also enhance flexibility. This is beneficial for people of all ages, including those who may be dealing with conditions like arthritis. In simpler terms, cycling is like a gentle massage for your joints, promoting movement without strain, and it’s a fantastic way to feel more youthful and active, regardless of your age! After all, who doesn’t want to feel younger?

older couple cycling down the street

4. It’s Fun!

Cycling means many different things to many different people, but in our opinion, there’s one unquantifiable benefit. Put simply; it’s fun!

There are few things better than being in the great outdoors, enjoying fresh air and an appreciation for our physicality. Cycling provides us with an opportunity to discover new places, take scenic routes, and see interesting landmarks, which can make it even more engaging.

That’s not to say that walking or running doesn’t bring these benefits, but for how much distance you can cover with relative ease, cycling comes out on top.

And, with an e-bike, this becomes even truer. Whilst they are more expensive than your standard non-electric pedaller, the range that you can tackle on an electric bike is truly astounding and can make covering great distances achievable. With this sense of accomplishment, comes another unsung benefit. 

Mature man and woman on bicycles

5. Mental Well-Being

We’ve spoken a lot about the physical benefits of cycling, but there’s an enormous amount to be said about the benefits it can have when it comes to our mental health.

As with all exercise, cycling can help boost the mood-enhancing endorphins in the brain, resulting in a sense of happiness, positivity, and overall well-being.

It also has the potential to reduce stress and anxiety. The focus that is required can encourage us to be in the present moment, promoting gentle mindfulness and relaxation. Of course, you don’t have to be ageing to enjoy these benefits. Who couldn’t do with a little less stress in their life?

But did you know that cycling can also make you feel better about yourself? Cycling as part of an active lifestyle can help to improve self-esteem and self-confidence, which in turn can contribute to a positive self-image!

older woman balance

6. Balance and Coordination

They say that you never forget how to ride a bike. Whilst we cyclists don’t often consider the complexities of the movements, there’s a considerable amount of coordination when it comes to cycling. Pedalling, steering, and maintaining balance, all whilst keeping your eyes on where you’re going requires some practice.

Cycling can help promote proprioception, which is a fancy way of saying it helps us to maintain an awareness of our position and movement in space. This plays a crucial role in maintaining balance and coordination, which are important things to consider, especially if we want to age gracefully.

friends on bicycles being social

7. Great for Socializing

Join the club! Do you know what’s better than cycling alone? Cycling with a friend.

Cycling can be great for socializing as it provides opportunities to engage in group rides. Going for a bike ride is a great way to connect with new people with a common interest, but it’s also a perfect excuse to reconnect with an old friend.

The older generation often experiences feelings of loneliness and isolation, but the humble bike provides a platform for the elderly to engage in conversation and share stories and experiences.

These are just a few of the many benefits of cycling. But as with so many other things, why take our word for it? Try it yourself, and we’re sure that you’ll start to see and feel the benefits. 

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