70-year-olds are called seniors. Due to the effects of aging they experience, which could either cause the weakening of their bones or increase the fragility of their muscles, it is quite a controversial question to ask if cycling is good or bad for a 70-year-old.
Research done some years ago by Doctor Micheal Yaremchuk stated that “Older riders are less likely to avoid a bike accident as they have reflexes, less strength, less coordination, less aerobic capacity, and lower bone density.” (Source)
But we cannot conclusively say that seniors should avoid cycling altogether because the chance of getting injured has more to do with their cycling technique and their experience in cycling than their aging effects.
A recent survey concluded that “seniors make up nearly 30% of new riders in the united states, 31% of all registrations for biking events were by seniors aged over 55 in the Netherlands, and 17% of people over 65 cycles every day. (Source)
So, the best answer to the question, “Is cycling a good activity for 70-year-olds? Cycling is a healthy activity for 70-year-olds because much research has proven that cycling is one of the activities known to slow down aging, and its effects. Apart from slowing down the progression of aging, there are other benefits such as improving one’s blood circulation, reducing joint strain, helping with maintaining a healthy weight, improving memory, and preventing cancer, however, there is also a list of risks that needs to be considered such as the risk of severe accidents.
- Pros and Cons of Cycling for Seniors
- PROS of Cycling for Seniors
- CONS of Cycling for Seniors
- What Are the Best Bike Options for Seniors?
- What Is the Average Speed of A 70-Year-Old Cyclist?
- Is Cycling Better than Running for The Knees?
Pros and Cons of Cycling for Seniors
Although cycling offers benefits to seniors, there are still some cons to cycling one should know. Below are the pros and cons of cycling for 70-year-olds.
PROS of Cycling for Seniors
– Cycling helps with weight loss
As people age, they lose the capacity to engage in most physical activity. So, there is a chance of weight gain. Weight gain causes a lot of harm to the elderly of age 65+.
Problems like heart diseases and diabetes may arise and potentially lead to death. Cycling is a low-impact, less stressful activity, which is a good way for people at age 70 to remain active and shed some weight. With that, they can burn out some fat and avoid the complications of weight gain/obesity.
– Cycling helps improve the pumping heart capacity of a person
Chronic diseases such as heart diseases, stroke, and diabetes are the most common causes of death among the elderly. A way for the seniors to reduce the progression of these illnesses, especially heart diseases, is to engage in low-impact activities like cycling.
This would help increase the heart pumping capacity, keeping the organs well-oxygenated and ventilated. If you keep up with cycling, your heart capacity will improve, and there will be a reduced risk of ever developing a heart condition.
– Cycling helps reduce the risk of cancer
As discussed earlier, a lack of activity leads to increased weight gain/obesity. Asides from resulting in complications such as heart diseases, it can also lead to cancer.
But when seniors engage in cycling activity, they lose weight and slow cancer progression. Obesity is now one of the leading causes of cancer, as stated by the World Health Organization.
– Improve memory
There is a gradual loss in memory as you age, and chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease makes memory loss a lot worse.
An activity such as cycling helps facilitate blood flow to the brain, providing adequate oxygen to the brain cells especially the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory.
For seniors who have been diagnosed with those medical conditions, cycling helps to decrease the progression of memory loss that comes with those degenerative diseases.
Although other activities help improve the memory such as running, cycling is safer for seniors to engage in as they are less stressful and can accommodate any senior suffering from injury or pain.
– Improve sexual life
Anyone older than 70 years has the potential of being less sexually active as a result of the aging of the organs responsible for producing those sex hormones.
But, a low-impact activity like cycling helps to improve blood flow to those organs, which will help improve the sexual life of such individuals.
“Elderly men who cycle have about 25% more sex than those who don’t, and women can delay menopause by up to 5 years.”(Source)
CONS of Cycling for Seniors
We have given some valid points on why seniors should engage in cycling and what they stand to benefit from, but here are some reasons why this might not be encouraged.
– Cycling can cause the genitals to feel numb
While cycling, there is usually a lot of pressure put on the genitals as the nerves and arteries get compressed (source).
When this happens for a long time, the seniors might feel pain or numbness. Although there is a potential for complications, it is reversible and preventable.
– Cycling requires a lot of practice
This is not exactly a disadvantage but without practice, there is a risk of falls and injuries. Asides from those falls and injuries, it is possible that these seniors might experience back pain if they don’t learn to cycle in the correct position.
-Cycling leads to bone loss
Although cycling is a low-impact and less stressful activity encouraged among seniors to help build their body strength, it can still lead to bone loss.
Research done by the New York Times compared those who cycle and those who don’t. After a bone scan on those participants, they observed osteopenia, which can cause osteoporosis. (Source)
Although there are certain drawbacks to cycling, they are outweighed by the pros and are preventable.
– Higher Risk of severe accidents
It is not a secrete that the older one gets, the slower one recovers, and since cycling accidents are associated with high-impact, cyclist accidents of the same scale are generally considered to be more serious to seniors than younger people.
Here is a table summary of these pros and cons.
|Cycling helps with weight loss||Cycling can cause the genitals to feel numb|
|Cycling helps improve one’s pumping heart capacity||Cycling requires a lot of practice|
|Cycling helps reduce the risk of cancer||Cycling leads to bone loss|
|Improve memory||Higher Risk of Severe Accident|
|Improve sexual life|
What Are the Best Bike Options for Seniors?
Their lots of bike options for seniors that fit into mobility and strength levels but, here are some of the best ones that have been suggested good for seniors.
1. E – Bikes (Electric-assist bikes)
E-bikes are usually recommended for seniors because they have the option of being helped by electronic assistance especially when they run out of breath from pedaling by themselves up a hill.
With the electric assist, they can cycle with little effort, thus giving them time to build their stamina.
According to the American college of sports medicine, e-bikes don’t provide the same exercise intensity as a pedal bike, but you can still get a decent workout while riding one. (Source)
Although this bike type tends to make life easy for the seniors, they are very pricey and heavy, weighing about 45 pounds. Also, they run at a very high speed.
So it is recommended that you take practice lessons before using this bike to avoid speeding into a ditch.
2. Cruisers Bike
This bike type is suitable for seniors who are seeking comfort and stability. They are bikes with wide tires, wide seats, and tall handlebars but are considered extremely heavy, and they are not suitable for cycling up a hill.
Also, its weight doesn’t permit you to cycle at high speed.
3. Adult Trikes
This is a three-wheeled bike made to provide stability and comfort to cyclists.
It is easy to get up the hills with this bike type with the help of the bike gears, but they move at low speed as they are heavy.
4. Recumbent bikes
These bikes usually have their bike pedals positioned in front which allows you to cycle in a semi-reclined position. This is a great bike option for seniors with back and neck problems that need support.
They also have hand cycles instead of foot pedals which help to reduce pressure on the feet. The only downside is that it appears lower than other bikes, so it prevents others from seeing you while cycling.
When considering the type of bike to invest in, you should look out for side mirrors, horns or bells, and lights. These are features that will ensure your safety.
What Is the Average Speed of A 70-Year-Old Cyclist?
According to research, as a person gets older, their speed decreases. Asides from age, there might be other factors that could play a role in the average speed of a 70-year-old. But, when these factors are isolated, the average speed of a 70-year-old senior is measured at 8 – 14 miles/hour. (Source)
Here is the list of factors that could affect the average speed of a 70-year-old cyclist
- The body weight and type
- The type of bike used
- The level of physical fitness
- The nature of the weather when cycling etc.
Is Cycling Better than Running for The Knees?
This is an important question to take into consideration. Although both activities help body strength building and provide a positive impact on health like weight loss, cycling is recommended for seniors.
Cycling is better for knees than running. This is because it is a low-impact, non-weight-bearing sports activity.
On the other hand, running causes stress on the legs, muscles, and knee joints as you kick your feet against the ground. The more this stress, the more the likely hood of an injury to the knee. (Source)
Although cycling doesn’t provide weight loss as much as running, it helps to improve the range of motion and strengthen the muscle around the knee.
Cycling also requires lesser endurance because it doesn’t defy so much gravity.
Here is a table to help give a clearer view of why cycling is better for the knees.
|It defies gravity a lot.||It doesn’t defy so much gravity|
|More endurance required||Less endurance required|
|Causes friction in the knee joint||Improves the range of motion of the knee joint|
To sum up this article, it is safe to say that cycling is good for seniors, aged 70+ because the benefits outweigh the cons. Getting injured from cycling has more to do with your cycling technique than cycling itself.
So, once you can learn how to cycle and choose the right bike that best suits your needs, you are ready to cycle down the tracks.