Biking for Fitness: You’ll Reap the Rewards

According to researchers in the UK, we shouldn’t assume that low energy and decreased vitality is directly correlated to aging.

To prove their point, they studied the effects of aging on active cyclists, rather than an inactive population, to find the true effects of passing years.

Their results flipped aging on its head.

Illustration, man riding a pedal bike
International Rocketship Limited

According to research in the Journal of Physiology on non-elite cyclists, aged between 55 and 79 years, “the relationship between human aging and physiological function is highly individualistic and modified by inactivity.”

In layman’s terms: the cyclists studied didn’t show their age. And health shouldn’t be measured by the number of candles on top of a cake.

For some time scientists have been trying to separate the effects of a sedentary lifestyle (one with no or irregular physical activity) on aging, from those of an active aging population. The researchers in the UK argue that some studies on aging are skewed, examining the health of the sedentary, while glossing over older adults who are physically fit. Learning that age doesn’t necessarily dictate a steady decline in physical and mental health is empowering.

Most everyone has room to increase their activity levels and see tangible results.

Deborah Martin-Willie, a cyclist from Arizona who looks decades younger than her years, finds biking for fitness is one of a few low-impact exercises that she can do outdoors. She says that it raises her heart rate, increases concentration and serves as a social experience — plus “it’s just plain fun!”

If biking for fitness is something you’d like to try, familiarize yourself with cycling safety and take the proper precautions before adventuring out.

Physically active individuals are generally happier and more energetic. It shows in their skin, muscularity, vital signs, energy levels and general health. When I cross their paths in my nursing career, I’m always inclined to ask, “What’s your secret?”

About the writer

Jewels Doskicz

Jewels is an Arizona-based RN with 20 years of clinical experience caring for the entire age spectrum. She is a passionate patient advocate, health consultant and long-distance cyclist. As a health writer, she covers a range of topics, including diabetes, health tech and treatments that are changing the face of health care.

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