Retirement should not be a stage in your life, when you disengage from all activities and slow down your lifestyle. An opposite, the time you spent in your office and other job place, you should use productively for emotional and physical self-growth and enjoyment. For those who are on the brink or those who have recently retired, retirement offers you the option of becoming fit and healthy through various outdoor activities such as hiking, running, biking and similar. Among those mentioned, biking offers one of the greatest chances of exploring simply because of the greater distance you can cover. You may already enjoy biking before the retirement, or you may discover it just with this transition.
While your most ambitious dreams to become a world-wide champion may not exactly come to fruition, you may still take up biking as a recreational activity to keep you up and going every single day. There are many Senior Olympic programs too…
Benefits of Biking
There are many health benefits that are associated with cycling. Let's look at a few of the major benefits:
- Cycling is one of the easiest ways to exercise. You can ride a bicycle almost anywhere, at any time of the year, and without spending a fortune. Many people are put off doing certain sports because of the high level of skill that seems to be required, or perhaps because they can’t commit to a team sport due to time pressures. Most of us know how to cycle and once you have learned you don’t forget. All you need is a bike, a half an hour here or there when it suits, and a bit of confidence.
- Cycling builds strength and muscle tone. Contrary to normal perceptions, cycling is not a fitness activity that solely involves the legs. Cycling builds strength in a holistic manner since every single part of the body is involved in cycling.
- Cycling increases muscle tone. Cycling improves general muscle function gradually, with little risk of over exercise or strain. Regular cycling strengthens leg muscles and is great for the mobility of hip and knee joints. You will gradually begin to see an improvement in the muscle tone of your legs, thighs, rear end and hips.
- Cycling builds stamina. Cycling is a good way to build
stamina. It is very effective in doing so,
because people enjoy cycling and they wouldn’t really notice that they have gone farther the last time they went cycling.
- Cycling improves cardio-vascular fitness. Cycling makes the heart pound in a steady manner and helps improve cardio-vascular fitness. Studies have shown that cycling to work will increase cardiovascular fitness by 3-7%. Cycling uses the largest muscle groups the legs, raising heart rate to benefit stamina and fitness.
- Cycling eats up calories. Cycling is a good way to lose those unwanted pounds. Steady cycling burns approximately 300 calories per hour. If you cycle for 30 minutes every day you would burn 11 pounds of fat in a year. Since it helps build muscle, cycling will also boost your metabolic rate long after you’ve finished your ride.
- Cycling improves heart health. According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. A major study of 10,000 civil servants suggested that those who cycled 20 miles over the period of a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as their non-cycling colleagues.
- Cycling improves coordination. Cycling is an activity that involves the whole body. Therefore, arm-to-leg, feet-to-hands and body-to-eye coordination are improved.
- Cycling reduces stress. Any regular exercise can reduce stress and depression and improve well being and self esteem. Cycling outdoors is also a good way to be one with nature and to feel the breath of the earth. It takes one’s mind out of everyday-life stress and rejuvenates his soul.
Many older people have impairments, such as reduced sight or hearing. Seniors are also more prone to suffer injuries in a fall, due to their brittle bones. Some have reduced cognitive skills, slower reaction times, balance problems or less physical strength and endurance. That is a sad reality, but knowing your limitations and playing around them you may enjoy riding bicycles for long and happy years.
To start off, you need to determine where your most likely route will be. Is it going to be on paved roads around town or national roads? Or are you still up to a challenge of a nature trail? Knowing what you want will help you determine the next step which is buying a bike for your chosen route.
In addition to choosing a bike, you must also take care to have the necessary biking gear. Although you can wear any comfortable clothes for biking, you may opt to take the next step and buy biking apparel should you want to become more aerodynamic. In addition, one gear you definitely must have is a helmet to protect your head should there be any accident. Next to a helmet, the second most important gears are the knee and elbow caps. This protects your joints from sustaining a greater damage in the incident of a bad fall. As for the other gears, it is up to you if you want to invest in more or stick with the basics.
When incorporating cycling into an over-all fitness program, there are many aspects to consider. Here are some important things to remember:
- Consult your doctor. Most people can do cycling. However, it is still best to consult your doctor when thinking about incorporating a cycling activity into an overall fitness program. They shall advise you regarding your limits and capacities and what you should avoid doing. It is especially important if you have any known health issues, which can potentially get worse with this physical activity.
- Cycling is a base training activity. Let’s say that the doctor says that there is nothing wrong with you engaging into cycling as a part of your overall fitness program, what do you do next? Remember that cycling should be considered as a base training activity. Base training activities are those, which provide endurance and aerobic training at the same time. Re-align your fitness program such that biking becomes the starting activity for the week. Other activities such as circuit training should be done so as to complement the benefits of cycling.
- Start slowly and then gradually increase your cycling. As beginner, you should employ a program wherein cycling is done three times a week. Doing it two times a week is also fine, but this depends on the capabilities of the person undergoing the training. If you feel, that the intensity is higher than you can handle, do not force yourself, and cut back to the acceptable level. Eventually, when you get more fit, you may be able increase your complexity and intensity level with no negative health consequences.
- Increase speeds gradually. Gradual increase in speeds is an important aspect of fitness cycling. Cycling can also be strenuous to the body and the key towards successful fitness cycling is to be patient and not hurry in increasing your limits.
- Better safe than sorry. Cycling is great fun but it is important to get the right equipment for the activity. Head gear, kneepads, elbow pads should all be in place when cycling. Check out carefully your bike before each and every ride. Make sure that all movable parts are well lubed. Tires should be aired up properly. Adjust your seat. This is very important for a comfortable ride. Check your mirrors. Make sure that you have reflectors that can be seen. If you ride at night, make sure you have a tail reflector and good headlight.
- Know where you go. When you set up a route, check it out. Look for unseen problems. Chuck holes, lose gravel, unrestrained dogs, and heavy automobile traffic are just a few of the things to look for.
- Pick the best time of the day. Since you have better availabilities to manage your time at retirement, stay away from rush hour traffic, as much as possible. Check the weather forecast. The last thing that you want is to be on a wet street. Let individuals know your route or where you will be biking at. Have a charged mobile phone and/or walkie-talkie on your route to be able calling for assistance in case of a breakdown or accident.
- Ride with a partner. It is safer and more enjoyable to be with someone. You can help encourage each other to continue as well.
- Stay away from steep hills and inclines. A few small hills are fine but, the larger ones might mean more walking and pushing your bike that climbing, at least at the first steps. Pedaling on a hill can triple the use of your heart, and this load is probably not the one, your heart will enjoy.
- Explore trails or paths. While that is a preference of the individual, you may want to find nice trails out of the major roads. They are located all over the country side. Find one to your liking. They usually have great views, no automobile traffic, and plenty of other riders to enjoy company with as you go. Or you can choose one of the many biking trails near the river bank or ocean shore.
- Have water and safety food with you. If you plan to slow ride a great distance, have some liquid refreshment and a power bar or two with you. Extra liquid and energy is always needed. It is very individual to get dehydrated rather quickly on a warm day, even going a short distance.
Bicycling Organizations and Links
You can find a lot more information about biking from these other biking organizations and biking links. There are also many -- too many to list here -- local biking organizations and associations that you can find on your own. We will list several major addresses to start with:
- Adventure Cycling Association. Designed to inspire people to travel by bike for fitness, fun, and self-discovery. Becoming a member offers all sorts of benefits, including bike tours, bike routes and maps, and much more.
- BicycleSafe.com. The name says it all. This site is a fantastic resource for learning how not to get hit by passing cars. Too many cyclists cut through traffic or pull alongside cars at intersections rather than behind vehicles. Learn safe biking.
- Bicycle Universe. Provides links to just about everything related to biking. In fact, calls itself the kitchen sink of bicycles and transportation. Good resources.
- bicyclinginfo.org. From the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC), a national clearinghouse for information about health and safety, engineering, advocacy, education, enforcement, access, and mobility for pedestrians (including transit users) and bicyclists.
- Bicycling Life. An interesting site for "everyday" bicyclists whose mission is to "promote bicycling by demonstrating that legal cycling on streets, roads, and highways is safe, clean, healthy, enjoyable, economical, and beneficial to society, and to provide bike riders with the information and encouragement they need to become vehicular cyclists."
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