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An older couple looking at each other smiling while on a bike.

8 Reasons to Take Up Cycling During Retirement 

Cycling has many benefits for mature riders looking to pick up a new hobby during their retirement years. If you haven’t considered adding cycling to your daily routine in retirement, here are 8 reasons why it might be a good idea for you!

1. It’s a great low-impact workout.

A couple riding a bike on a trail.

Many aerobic exercises like running aren’t ideal for people with conditions like arthritis because they put extra strain on the joints. On the contrary, biking is an excellent low-impact aerobic activity that will protect your joints. 

If you have arthritis, cycling can actually alleviate symptoms to help you find some relief! By keeping your joints moving, you can reduce stiffness, pressure, and encourage your body’s production of synovial fluid, which naturally lubricates your joints.1

For those who have issues with balance, indoor cycling on a stationary bike can still be a safe way to exercise that won’t negatively impact your joints.

2. It’s a fun way to get outdoors.

4 people riding a bike.

Older adults are less likely than other age groups to spend time outside, but getting outside has many physical and psychological benefits for retirees. 

Seniors who spend more time outside may experience less depression and anxiety. It also helps eliminate mental fatigue, reduces feelings of isolation by promoting social interaction, and increases Vitamin D levels, which may help ward off chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer.2

3. It improves your heart health.

A couple riding a bike in a park.

According to the National Institute on Aging, adults ages 65 and older are more likely than younger people to suffer from cardiovascular disease due to changes that occur with age.3 As a result, regular physical activity (cardio, in particular) is extremely important for older adults, as it can help prevent heart disease.

Cycling is a type of cardiovascular exercise, which means it relies on your body’s ability to use oxygen. Riding a bike can help you improve your heart health at any age because it forces the heart to pump faster to push oxygen to all the cells in your body.

Over time, regular cardio exercises will strengthen your heart and help reduce your likelihood of experiencing conditions like heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.

4. It stimulates brain activity and may delay the onset of dementia.

A couple parking bikes in city.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, some research shows seniors can reduce their risk of dementia with regular exercise.4 

For example, one study followed 638 people in Scotland and found that those who were physically active at the age of 70 experienced less brain shrinkage over three years than those who were not. Several other studies have similar findings.5

Another 2021 research study found that engaging in medium or high levels of exercise was associated with slower rates of cognitive decline in people with high or low levels of tau, a protein linked with Alzheimer’s disease.6

Generally, these studies refer to aerobic exercise, completed in bursts of 20 to 30 minutes at a time, done several times a week, and maintained for at least a year. As such, regular indoor or outdoor cycling may be one type of aerobic exercise that’s not just good for the body but also the mind!

5. It’s a good way to stay social.

2 couples smiling to the camera.

Cycling reduces feelings of isolation by promoting social interaction. Cycling groups are available worldwide and are an excellent way to meet new people. 

Riding a bike is also a great way to improve your current relationships! Whether you take time to cycle with your son, spouse, or best friend, the one-on-one time it provides can help you deepen your relationship with others as you enjoy exercising and exploring the outdoors together.

Even if you’re limited by travel, you can bike indoors with friends or family online with Vingo! Just coordinate with your loved one, hop on your indoor trainers at the same time, and create a private group chat so you can explore the exciting virtual routes together while you chat and cycle.

6. It can be an excuse to travel.

A couple looking at a sunset on a beach.

Retirement is an incredible time in life to travel and experience new places. And cycling tours are a fun, healthy, and inexpensive way to do so! You can join a cycling tour almost anywhere, and they’re often an exciting way to explore a location because they take the road less traveled. (Other types of tours are more likely to be “touristy” and follow more congested routes.) 

You can also choose from several different types of cycling tours to achieve the adventure you want. Some of the most common kinds include:

  • Guided cycling tours: You pay a professional company to escort you along a predetermined route. The company carries all your luggage (food, clothing, etc.) in a vehicle that meets you at checkpoints along the way. Larger groups may have several tour guides, while smaller ones may only have one.
  • Self-guided cycling tour: Similarly, these tours are pre-established by a cycling tour company, but you follow the predetermined route on your own or with a group of people you invite to go with you. In most cases, you also carry your belongings with you on your bike. Your meals may or may not be covered by the bicycling company hosting the tour, but with a self-guided route, you can more easily take detours and stop to explore specific areas if you want to.
  • Self-supported cycling tour: If you prefer to take care of everything on your own (route planning, lodging, luggage hauling, meals, etc.), this is the option for you. A self-supported cycling tour is exactly what it sounds like: you take care of everything on your own. While this gives you the freedom to choose your own route and is typically the least expensive, it also requires the most skill and planning. 

7. It’s a convenient way to get around.

2 couples walking on the beach with bikes.

Depending on where you live, cycling may be a great hobby while retired, but it can also be an excellent form of transportation, especially if you live in a bike-friendly city. Whether you need to get to appointments, the park, social gatherings, or family and friends’ houses, your bicycle is a convenient way to do it.

Additionally, cycling around will increase your independence if you no longer drive because you’ll be less reliant on family and friends to get you places.

8. It can help keep your body strong.

Older couple on beach with their dog.

As you age, you naturally lose muscle strength. Although declining muscle mass is a natural part of the aging process, cycling may help you preserve your physical strength to prevent falls, injuries, and loss of mobility.7

Cycling helps build muscle in your legs, which improves your overall muscle power since they are the body part most responsible for mobility. However, if you haven’t historically been very active, you should start slow and consider indoor cycling, as it will reduce your risk for injuries and falls. 

Key Takeaways:

Cycling is an excellent physical activity for retirees. It’s good for physical and mental health, is a fun way to stay social, improves independence, and can help you get around without a car if necessary.

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Sources:

  1. Dumain, T. (2019, November 13). Cycling and Arthritis: Why Cycling Is Good for Your Joints, and How to Get Started. CreakyJoints. https://creakyjoints.org/diet-exercise/cycling-and-arthritis/ 
  2. Kerr, J., Marshall, S., Godbole, S., Neukam, S., Crist, K., Wasilenko, K., Golshan, S., & Buchner, D. (2012). The Relationship between Outdoor Activity and Health in Older Adults Using GPS. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 9(12), 4615–4625. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph9124615 
  3. Heart Health and Aging. (n.d.). National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/heart-health-and-aging 
  4. Physical exercise and dementia. (n.d.). Alzheimer’s Society. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/risk-factors-and-prevention/physical-exercise 
  5. Bherer, L., Erickson, K. I., & Liu-Ambrose, T. (2013). A Review of the Effects of Physical Activity and Exercise on Cognitive and Brain Functions in Older Adults. Journal of Aging Research, 2013, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/657508 
  6. Physical activity associated with slower cognitive decline in people with high levels of tau protein. (2021, October 14). National Institute on Aging. https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/physical-activity-associated-slower-cognitive-decline-people-high-levels-tau-protein 
  7. Harvard Health. (2016, February 19). Preserve your muscle mass. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/preserve-your-muscle-mass 

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