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If you’re thinking about whether to stop cycling or if you’re even too old to start, then you should know that the question ‘At what age should you stop cycling’ cannot really be answered with a number.
There is certainly no specific age that you should stop cycling. However, there are many reasons that you may encounter that will mean it becomes wise to stop, such as chronic illness, injuries, or failing eyesight or mental capabilities.
However, it is important not to be too hasty when making this decision. Cycling is one of the very best forms of exercise for seniors. So you have to weigh up the pros and cons about if you are able to continue.
In this post, I’ll look at:
- The reasons that mean you need to stop cycling – both temporarily and permanently
- The many benefits of cycling for seniors
- How to get started with cycling over the age of 60
When to Stop Cycling?
Cycling for older adults can be exciting and a good way to spend time. But knowing when to stop cycling is important.
You do not want to hurt yourself in the endeavor of cycling. That is why it is important to know when cycling becomes something you should take a break from.
I’m going to split these reasons up into two types:
- Reasons to take a break from cycling temporarily
- Reasons to think about finishing cycling permanently
Reasons To Take A Break From Cycling Temporarily
With age comes a whole host of issues that cause a barrier to cycling. Often these are not things that will stop you permanently, but just require a period of rest before cycling again is wise.
Here are some of the things to look out for:
You can of course get injured in two different ways:
- Following a fall on your bike
- Receving an injury from a non-cycling-related accident
Injuries From Cycling
If you have a fall on your bike, you need to assess the injuries and see if it’s sensible to continue riding immediately.
If riding a bike makes the pain in your injuries worse, maybe it is time to stop and allow yourself a period of recovery before cycling again.
If this pain persists, do not be shy to seek medical advice.
If you get into an accident, wait till the adrenaline wears off, then you can check yourself before riding on. If you have large or deep abrasions, facial and head injuries, or swelling or pain in a bone, then you should stop immediately and seek first aid.
Injuries From Non-Cycling Accidents
There are some injuries that will make cycling harder. These include damage to:
- The knees
- The back
- The hips
Seek medical attention and advice. Oftentimes, cycling can be a good source of rehabilitation for these kinds of injuries, but it’s important to know when it is safe to get back on the bike, and at what intensity when you start back.
2. Common Colds That Spread
If you get a cold, it is important to remember that as long as your symptoms are restricted to your neck such as a runny nose or sore throat, then it is safe to carry on.
However, if your symptoms are below your neck, such as aching muscles, high temperature, productive cough, or shortness of breath, then it is time to rest.
3. Being Caught Up In Being Overly-Ambitious
Most cyclists forget to make their target something they can achieve. Being overly ambitious in your goals can lead to cycling becoming a negative force in your life.
Many cyclists admit to having taken a challenge too far. Foul weather, too many hills, or lots of miles are things we put ourselves out of depth with.
It is safe to say that older adults have a harder time with cycling than youngsters so it is in their best interest to make plans that they can easily follow. Mapping out the routes or taking a ride around to the grocery market are some things to get you started.
You can always build up from this and get going longer distances as you get more confident.
Many older cyclists injure themselves or become demoralized by refusing to believe they are slowing down.
This is the time when it might be good to take a break and re-evaluate what you want to get out of cycling. Then you can return with a more realistic assessment of your own capabilities and what you want to achieve.
4. Common Aging Side Effects
There are many things we may encounter as we get older that are not major problems in themselves but could cause issues when cycling. These include:
- Lack of sleep
- Appetite Issues
You know your body and your mind better than anyone else. If you are going through a period of a few days where you are getting significantly less sleep than normal, it may be wise not to get cycling that day.
Many of these issues fluctuate. You do not want to exacerbate the issues or put yourself in danger by cycling. It could be dangerous to cycle outdoors when you are very tired, irritable, or have not been eating well for a period.
On the other hand, it should be said that cycling and gentle exercise is the strong proven remedy for many of these issues, and this should be weighed up on the other side of the equation.
Reasons To Take A Break From Cycling Permanently
If you are someone that suffers from chronic illnesses, then it is wise to check with your physician before you take up serious biking.
The onset of a serious illness may also mean you need to stop. Some examples of such illnesses may be following a severe stroke or if you have severe respiratory disease.
Again, it is important to seek professional medical advice, but there are some mental conditions that will mean certainly cycling outdoors or on roads becomes too dangerous.
These may include:
- Parkinson’s Disease
Of course, in there may well be no reason not to continue with indoor cycling if you are suffering from any of these diseases.
If your eyesight has deteriorated, then outdoor cycling may become too dangerous. There is a range of common eye conditions that many people suffer from as we age, including:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
These would not normally mean you cannot cycle indoors however. Also, many of these conditions are treatable. It really is crucial with this to follow the guidance of your medical professional.
Muscle And Joint Issues
Although cycling is one of the best exercises for our joints, there may come a time when your body has just had enough.
The same is true of our muscles. Cycling is generally positive for our muscles, as long as you use a bike that fits you well and you use good form.
However, If you are getting serious joint or muscle pain, and you think cycling is either exacerbating or causing this issue, then that is the time to seek medical advice.
Benefits of Cycling for the Elderly
Now we’ve had a look at all the reasons that you might need to stop cycling, at least for a time, you should see that many of them are not hard and fast rules. It is more a case of balancing the benefits of cycling that you will experience, weighed up against any downsides.
For example, if you have failing eyesight, it may be wise to stop cycling outdoors, but you can still use a stationary bike indoors.
The thing to remember, though, is the vast array of benefits that cycling has for the elderly.
Here are some of the key ones:
1. It Is Low Impact – Gentle On The Body
Classified as a low-impact sport because of its rotational movement, it does not ask much from you.
Unlike other sports out there, the low-impact nature of cycling significantly lowers the risk of injury. It is important to remember that just because cycling is considered a low-impact sport, it does not mean it will not have a positive effect on your body.
Being in the same line as other taxing sports like running, cycling is a good cardiovascular exercise that ensures your heart stays healthy for longer.
Regular cycling can help with combatting the start of chronic illnesses such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
2. It Is Great To Cycle Outside (If You Are Able)
Exercising at the gym has its benefits but the good thing about pedaling a bike is that you get to see the outside.
Riding a bike is a great excuse to get up and enjoy nature!
These days it is easier to cycle than ever. With easy access to cycling paths all along the cities as well as designated routes, it is a great way for cyclists to enjoy the outdoors.
There is a rise in designated routes which in turn has helped to decrease risk as most are specifically made for cyclists and are away from the roads.
3. It Is Great To Cycle Indoors As Well
With an increasing number of exercise bikes in homes and your local gym, cycling has become one of the few sports that is not dependent on the weather.
This is a great advantage for places that do not get a lot of sun.
Exercising indoors is always a good way to start slowly, especially when you have not been active for a bit and need a routine or you are recovering from an ailment. You can change the settings to a low intensity at the start and can slowly increase that as you regain strength.
According to the NHS, older adults should be exercising for at least 150 minutes/per week. This is an incentive way to get riding because it helps you have a target to reach; a target that won’t be affected by the weather.
4. Cycling is Social
There has been an increase in the number of cycling groups because of the development of cycle paths, worldwide. There have been more events nationwide as well as inclusive spaces for all age groups and abilities throughout the country.
It is a good way to keep up with your exercise and a great chance to make new friends and become part of the larger community.
5. There Are Mental Benefits To Cycling
It’s a misconception to think cycling is only good for physical health.
Cycling has provided a lot of support to people suffering from high stress, anxiety, and depression. The phenylethylamine, dopamine, and serotonin levels increase. Together, these hormones make you feel more relaxed, alert, and happier.
Even 30 minutes of cycling each day can improve your mental and physical health according to an article by Better Health. (Source)
If You Are 60 Or Over, Here Are 5 Steps On How To Get Started!
Whatever your age, you can always cycle and ride! If you are over the age of 60 and do not ride a bike, I have summarized how you can get started!
Step 1 Getting Started – Finding a community of Cyclists
Let us start with this: do not be afraid to ride a bike. You can easily find a program that teaches adults the art of riding as well as the skills needed to ride in traffic.
You can find lists of bike instructors, events, classes, clubs, and bike shops near you.
Do not overlook your state and local organizations that form the basic framework for making communities safe for cyclists of all ages and abilities.
Step 2 – Get a Bicycle
After deciding what your budget is for a bicycle, keep in mind the accessories such as locks, lights, and helmets as well.
If you are lucky enough to live in a city that has a bike share program, you can easily rent out a bicycle before deciding to buy one.
There are also bicycle recycling programs all over the city where you can buy second-hand bikes at a reasonable price.
If you are planning to buy a new bike, then be curious and ask a lot of questions. The most important is to ride the bike that you like so that you can get the feel/hang of it and know whether it is the right one for you.
A good bike shop is not only going to help you find a bike within your budget but also help in finding the correct style and size for your needs. They can also help you make final adjustments on your bike thus making your bicycle comfortable and safe.
Step 3 – Keep Your Physical Needs In Mind
When we get older, our agility declines no matter how much we work out.
There are many manufacturers out there who now make bicycles for people with physical limitations, seniors, and women.
If you are just starting with a bike, a race bike might not be for you. City bikes are made for transportation and comfort with their upright positioning, making them easy to ride.
You can also consider a tricycle if you find two wheels to be a challenge.
If you have trouble lifting your leg over your bicycle, you can look for a step-through bike that can be handy no matter what gender you are. If you are an older adult, going for a bicycle with a deep-steep through and wider tires is always a good idea.
Here is a video where some older cyclists give their views on what has kept them cycling:
Step 4 – What To Wear On A Bicycle?
You can wear whatever article of clothing you have as long as it is comfortable when you move your legs and it feels good. You do not necessarily have to purchase special clothing.
But keep in mind that wide-legged pants can get caught in your bike chain so it is important to have a mudguard.
Avoid wearing flip-flops and instead opt for shoes that protect your feet.
Tech wick shirts tend to wash and dry easily while natural fibers such as wool are excellent to moderate heat.
Step 5 – Safety Concerns
To make your rides as safe as possible here are some things you can do to ensure you stay healthy and safe while working out:
- Drink lots of water
- You should be dressing in layers
- Always stretch before you go cycling
- Always ride during the day
- Don’t ride your bike when you are drunk
- Tie your shoelaces
- Listen to your body
If you have any concerns like heartburn, dizziness, or pain, please consult with your doctor before taking your bike for a ride.