Over 40? Here's why cycling may be perfect for you
Simple enough for a child to master but challenging enough to keep downhill World Champion Miranda Miller’s heart racing—cycling is a sport that can be enjoyed at almost any age. However, middle age may be the perfect time to start.
Reaching your forties and beyond comes with the joys of more wisdom, life experience, and financial stability. But with that comes a busy life full of family, career, social life, and hobbies, and it can be hard to find time and energy to exercise.
Cycling may be for you if you’re looking for a physical activity option to help burn calories and lower the risk of chronic lifestyle diseases. The sport can effectively help maintain good cardiovascular health, as it gets your heart rate up, but it is easier on your knees than running. This makes it an increasingly popular option for those hitting middle age.
Cycling can help you meet recommended exercise requirements because it allows you to build strength and stamina without hammering your joints. This makes it ideal if you are looking to cross-train, recovering from injury, or just looking for a fun way to stay active.
While cycling can help combat the many health risks from inactivity, here are some factors to remember when starting a new exercise regime in middle age.
Take care of your bones
After age 40, bone mass starts to decline drastically, which can result in spine, hip, and knee problems.
It is important to have a mix of weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing exercises, as a prolonged lack of stress on your bones can make them more prone to low bone density and result in fractures later on. Cross-training between a non-weight-bearing exercise (such as cycling) and a weight-bearing exercise (like running, walking, and strength training) provides a good balance.
Keep your muscles strong
A loss of muscle mass and tone can also affect your posture and bone density. Once you hit 30, muscle mass decreases by approximately 3-8% per decade. So adding muscle strengthening exercises to your weekly exercise regime is important to slow down the loss in muscle mass but more importantly the loss in muscle strength.
It’s essential to focus on exercises that involve the major muscle groups in compound movements for the best results such as squats, deadlifts, push ups, pull ups, lunges, and shoulder press. Make sure you balance the exercises between pushing and pulling movements.
Cyclists should focus in particular on their upper and lower back muscles by doing exercises that will open their chest and strength the rhomboids (muscles between their shoulder blades), their lats (biggest muscle in your back) and the erector spinae (two long muscles running down your back on either side of your spine.
Check out these great low back exercises perfect for cyclists.
Be aware of injuries
Injuries are always possible when exercising; as you age, these possibilities should be considered.
But there are things that you can do to avoid an injury while exercising. When it comes to cycling, it is essential to ensure your equipment is set up correctly—make sure your bike is positioned correctly for your body.
Also, ensure you give yourself enough time to recover between training sessions—this amount of time will differ for each person, so be sure to listen to your body. Another tip to lower the risk of injury is to ensure you have good form (technique), even if the exercise takes longer.
Get your 150 minutes of exercise a week
There are a lot of different exercises that go hand-in-hand with cycling to make it the perfect fit for adults over 40—and under 40, too! According to the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines, adults aged 18-64 should get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity—that is, where you can still answer a short question but not chat—per week.
Get started by joining a club
Middle age may be the perfect time to start (and most enjoy) cycling, as many older athletes have been shown to develop greater fatigue resistance with regular training. In other words, middle-aged cyclists could have the persistence to travel the distance.
Finding a local cycling club to get started is a great way to get active and get social!
Cycling really does offer so many benefits at any age—strengthen muscles, get your aerobic exercise in, get outside to enjoy the fresh air, and so much more. And while it is particularly great when you hit middle-age, cycling is a wonderful option to help you get active at any age.
Please always check with a medical professional to ensure these strategies are right for you.