Over 40? Transform Your Life: Ride A Bike! [Guest Post]

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by Peter Crump

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Are you older, fatter, unfit and unhealthy?

I bet it wasn’t so long ago you were 25. In fact, it seems just like yesterday, doesn’t it. You were young, strong, lean, healthy and probably quite fit. You had your sporting interests, usually quite a few.

However, in the blink of an eye, you’ve fast forwarded to today. Suddenly you’re in your 40s, 50s or 60s.

You’re not quite so strong any more. You’re not quite so lean, in fact you seem, unnoticed, to have stacked on 10 or 20 kilos. You puff a little, or a lot, when you climb the stairs. Maybe the doctor has told you to lose weight for the good of your health, to get out and exercise.

Because when you were young you exercised. Not because you wanted the exercise, but just because it was part of your lifestyle.

But marriage, kids, work, food and much more seemed to get in the way, and the activities and the exercise that you loved just seem to have stopped, unnoticed.

That described me, at 50…

That was me, some years ago. At 50 I’d come to the realisation that I was heading to becoming overweight and unhealthy, just as I’d seen in friends of mine. My hobbies and interests from years ago had ended, I’d put on weight, I’d got unfit. I hadn’t really noticed it happening.

However, it’s not quite so easy to start getting fit in later life. Your options are more limited. Your enthusiasm is more limited and it all seems much harder.

I took up jogging. I hated jogging. It was boring, it made my knees hurt and it took an effort of will to get out there each time.

So I gave up the jogging and took up swimming. Swimming is worse than jogging. Going up and down those lanes watching that black line could be the definition of boring. The swimming lasted a month.

I was stumped, or was I?

And then, one day, I noticed an ad in the local paper from the local cycling club. Come cycling with us, recreational riders only, no experience needed. So I joined the club and have never looked back since.

That was the start of my journey!

I’ve been cycling ever since, that was 6 years ago. I began on a cheap and simple hybrid bike and immediately enjoyed it. Within 6 months I was looking enviously at the groups of more serious road cyclists in the club doing bunch rides of 1, 2 and 3 hours at a time. 30 or 40 riders, all riding together having a great time.

So I bought a proper road bike and joined them. Initially I wasn’t fit enough, and so joined the slowest group, but gradually over the years worked up my fitness to a better level. I can’t cycle with the best of them yet, but I’m much better.

In my view, road cycling is the perfect activity for the older person. Why?

1. It’s great fun:

Whilst jogging or swimming was lonely and boring cycling with a group of other cyclists is just plain good fun. And it’s very important that any activity you choose be fun.

If it’s not good fun you won’t keep it up. It might last for a month, or 2, or a year, but willpower only goes so far, and you’ll never keep up that activity indefinitely unless it’s fun. Fun is the number 1 requirement for any activity that you take up as an older person.

2. It’s very social:

You’re out riding with a whole bunch of like-minded energetic people. They love the activity just as you do. There’s always something to talk about and the time just seems to slip by. Suddenly your ride is finished and you wish there was more.

Research shows that one of the more important aspects to staying healthy as you get older is social interaction. Cycling with a group of like minded people is the perfect social interaction.

And the fun doesn’t end with the ride. Almost every bunch I’ve cycled with finishes with a coffee and a chat. That’s fun too.

3. It’s great exercise:

Cycling is low impact cardiovascular exercise. You’ll often cycle for one to 3 hours, and you’re maintaining an elevated heart rate for that length of time.

Almost all the research done into good health over the last few years recognises the benefits of regular exercise to almost all types of health problem.

Best of all, because it’s so much fun, you get the exercise without even meaning to, because you’d be out there cycling even if there was no exercise involved. Just because you love it.

…and that’s the recipe for ongoing exercise and good health.

So if the above describes you, i.e. you feel a little like I did at 50, a little, or a lot, overweight, a little, or a lot, unfit, a little, or a lot, uninvolved in life, then think about taking up road cycling.

You won’t be the only one, it’s becoming massively popular amongst older people for all of these reasons.

Where do you start?

It isn’t hard, just look up your local cycling club, or look for a bunch of people clad in lycra at the local coffee shop on a Sunday morning and ask them how to get involved. You’ll be welcomed into the group, and you won’t look back….

..you’ll love cycling – so go on, I dare you – give it a go!

[Peter Crump is the author and founder of the site at www.over40cyclist.com - a site dedicated to improving your cycling and your life. He is offering a FREE ebook on How To Ride Better With Less Effort which is a highly recommended read when you sign up to his weekly newsletter.]

If you enjoyed Peter’s post do share amongst Facebook/Twitter friends who are ‘sitting on the fence’ about getting started in cycling…the more we get the word out, the more of us can enjoy a healthier, happier life.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Wayne Parker August 12, 2014 at 11:09 pm

Have not ridden a bicycle since I was about 10/11 years old. I’m 60 in four months and have just recently bought myself a bike. At last I have found some sort of exercise that I actually enjoy. As Peter states in the article riding a bike is fun and good exercise. Have not been out with anyone as yet,still finding my legsand building up my fitness(slowly) but I will get there. Hope to find a local club to join and one day enter a Sportive maybe. At the moment just lovin it!

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Rebecca September 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Hi Wayne, – the joy begins :-) – so much to explore, routes, roads, countries, events, kit and more kit..and friendships…I can’t explain it, but it is definitely a great hobby to get into no matter your age. I’ve had 80 year olds contact me and one in his 70s rode the Tour de France route from beginning to end.. SO, you have it all in front of you. Yes, build up your fitness slowly, go by how you feel more than anything else and just look forward to the next bike ride :-) .

All the best,

Becky

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