Around 100 million Americans ride their bike every year, though few do so as their main means of transportation – as found in research conducted by the Breakaway Research Group. Because cycling does not place weight on the knees and since velocity and effort can be adapted with the change of gears, it can also be an ideal sport for those in their 50s, 60s, or 70s. The use of cycling for leisure purposes indicates the extent to which this sport is a pleasurable way to get around. However, it also wields a host of benefits that seniors, in particular, can take advantage of – for one, cycling can actually slow down aging!
Building Motivation is Key
If discussing the many health benefits of cycling isn’t enough to wrest gramps or gran from their favorite spot on the sofa, then finding the right way to motivate them is key. Research has found that self-determined motivation and perceived competence are vital pillars in getting a senior to exercise more. In a study by researchers at the University of Gothenburg, scientists discovered that the more seniors feel that they are able to make decisions for themselves, the more likely they are to stick to an exercise plan in the long-term. Therefore, instead of making cycling sound like a duty or scaring your loved one with statistics on the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, you might try gentler tactics such as showing your loved one photographs of the beautiful places you cycle to, revealing your physical transformation since you started cycling, or even showing them videos of other senior cyclists enjoying a great day out.
The Right Equipment Boosts Empowerment
It is important for seniors to feel comfortable on their bikes, so if they join you for a day in the sun and they express a wish to cycle more, investing in an appropriate bike is key. Features to look out for include weight, durability, and ease of gear changes. Bikes to consider are commuter bikes, mountain bikes, and e-bikes. The right bike may also need to have a suspension system that is good enough to absorb shock and reduce vibrations and a good brake, especially if your loved one will be riding in urban areas. The bike will also need to be ergonomic that can easily be adjusted to the right height and distance from the saddle. All bike parts should be easy to handle and replace; elderly riders may have joint conditions that will make manipulation of stiff or heavy parts painful. If you live in an area with numerous uphills, then an electric bike that will take the edge off the toughest hills will probably be well appreciated by a senior loved one.
If a grandparent or other elderly loved one craves to get out more and give their heart a good workout, cycling may be the perfect solution. Seniors who are highly self-motivated may already have the perfect bike but if not, accompany them so you can try out different bikes. Choose one that is comfortable, sturdy, yet light. The more pleasurable a bike ride is for your senior family member, the more likely cycling is to turn into a lifetime love affair.