As a Quad-City ORA Orthopedics orthopedic surgeon, what are the benefits of cycling?
As we age, it can be hard to endure weight-bearing high-impact exercises such as running, tennis, or basketball, especially for my patients who have undergone total joint replacements of the knee and hip.
Vigorous cycling provides great cardio benefits to hearts and lungs.
It can also help older riders maintain balance as well as build hip, knee, and leg muscles.
What about bone thinning and osteoporosis?
As we age, we begin to lose bone density, especially for post-menopausal women or for those who suffer from osteoporosis.
While cycling is a great low-impact sport, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends you also incorporate weight-bearing exercise such as walking or hiking and resistance training, such as weight machines or free weights, to help slow actual bone loss as we age.
Is cycling for everyone? How does one get started?
I notice more of my older friends have begun to bike instead of running or playing tennis.
Biking does work for a lot people, but for those with knee, back, or balance problems, the prospect of riding can be scary.
Bicycle crashes are a real concern.
I recommend that mid-life newbie riders start with a sturdy bike, such as a hybrid with larger tires, that you can maneuver well.
The more experienced you become; you can add more speed with a road bike, similar to the 10-speeds we rode as kids.
And remember, always wear a helmet!
For someone who wants to cycle, but has concerns about riding with others, a stationary bike can be adjusted to your ability. They have some really cool models.
At Quad-City YMCAs, I’ve seen stationary bikes with video screens that allow you to ride through Paris or the Alps!