The feeling of cruising on your bicycle with the wind blowing against your face and the world passing by you is awesome.
Cycling has its own benefits. For those over 60, this feeling is in addition to the health benefits you get from cycling.
Did you know that, according to a study at King’s College London, fit amateur cyclist aged 55 to 79 were physically much younger than most people their age.
Cycling is a low impact activity and does not put any added stress on the hips, knees and feet. The cyclic movements help lubricate the joints reducing any pain and stiffness(source).
It improves mental well-being, builds muscles, and reduces risks of heart and lung diseases. To top it off, you always feel good after a proper cycling workout.
Well that is enough motivation for you to pick up your bike and start cycling. It may seem scary at first but once you have a plan laid out and are actually sitting on your bike, it will not be as hard as it seems.
If you are ready to get started, then you may want to consider some of the following points.
First things First – Doctor
The first thing you need to do before starting any exercise program is to check with the doctor.
It is important to make sure that you don’t have any underlying issues that can hinder your exercise and have adverse effects on your health. Once your doctor confirms that you are fit and healthy, then you can start cycling
Consider you physical needs
If you haven’t ridden a bike in a while, or if you are riding for the first time, you may want to start slow.
There are many bikes that are made for comfort, with easily manageable riding positions. If you find it hard to balance on a 2-wheeler bike, then you can get a 3-wheeler bike. It is easier to ride on these, till you can balance properly.
Most Important – Get a Bike
You can’t start cycling without a bike. If you already have one, you can take it out and make sure that it is in good condition.
If you don’t have one, you may want to borrow one to get started. However, if you decide to buy a new bike, you should first make a budget on how much you want to spend. Then you can look at bikes in your budget. Remember to buy a helmet as well.
There are many options available and you can read up about them online and ask questions at your local bike shop before making your final purchase. There are many sites online, in addition to your local shops, where you can purchase a bike within your budget. They will also make adjustments for you till you are comfortable.
Find the right place
When you start riding, you may feel nervous venturing out on to the roads. Find an open clear space near your house and start practicing.
Be sure to practice in secluded areas, away from traffic. You may get intimidated if there are a lot of people around you. There are also many organizations that offer cycling classes and you may consider attending a few to get the hang of cycling.
Wear proper gear
A breathable tee shirt and cycling pants is the way to go.
However, there is no hard and fast rule that you have to wear those. Remember, the best thing to do is wear clothes that you are comfortable in. Just make sure that your clothes don’t hinder your riding.
If you are wearing pants, make sure they don’t get stuck in the wheels. Natural fibers like cotton or wool an excellent choice as they keep your body temperature moderated. Wear shoes that are comfortable and protect your feet. Ensure you are wearing a cycling helmet at all times.
Set up a program
It is important to set up a cycling program and follow it. This is especially important for beginners. It will get you started into a cycling routine. The program can be based on your needs, lifestyle and time. You can have a 20 min session, 3 times a week in the beginning and then increase the time and number of days as you become more confident. Having a fixed time and day will ensure that you stay motivated.
An important factor to remember is rest. I cannot emphasize this enough. Rest, Rest and more rest, especially after you have done a few extra miles.
You need to give time for your body and muscles to recover after a big cycle. It is also vital to keep hydrated and take in adequate amounts of protein. Finally, a good night sleep is the best to allow your body to heal. Not taking proper care of your body after cycling can result in injuries.
Follow the rules of the road
In many countries of the world, cyclists have to follow the same rules as car drivers. Once you finally venture out onto the road, check what rules are applicable in your area.
Communicate with others who are in the road with you. Making eye contact and using hand signals to show people what you are about to do can save you from collision.
Use your bike to meet up with friends, go to the park or the beach. Find a friend who likes to cycle and go on bike rides together.
There are many areas and new places you can explore in the city and the countryside. When you get more confident on your bike, you can even sign up for charity rides. It is great to go riding in a group or with a bunch of friends.
Including your friends in your cycling passion can help you stay motivated and give you a chance to experience the great outdoor together.
Once you see the way cycling boosts your mood and you experience the ‘feeling good’ factor, you will never want to leave your bikes. Get started on your cycling journey and enjoy the ride.