It’s never too late to enjoy the fun and proven health benefits of bicycling!
Think you’re too old to ride a bike? Think again! It’s never too late to enjoy the health benefits (and fun!) of cycling. But don’t just take our word for it; the results of a recent Mayo Clinic study may motivate you to get back on a bike!
Researchers monitored the effects of different exercise regimens on healthy (but sedentary) men and women over the age of 64 and under the age of 30. After twelve weeks, the subjects who did interval workouts while pedaling a bicycle showed the greatest increase in the number and health of muscle cell “power generators”—the mitochondria. An unexpected finding was this positive effect was even more pronounced among the older cyclists. What does this mean for you? According to the study’s lead author, the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with aging can be ‘corrected” with exercise in the form of interval training. Are you ready to get back on a bike yet?
Bike Riding as Interval Training
Interval training is any workout that alternates bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. Many activities can be turned into an interval workout. However, a bike ride can deliver all the fitness benefits of interval training along with a healthy dose of fresh air, fun, and ever-changing scenery. So where do you begin…?
Back in the Saddle Again: Bike Rides for Older Adults in the St. Louis Region
With more than 125 miles of greenway across our region, you can take your pick of scenic routes, natural areas and parks to explore and enjoy. Click here to see a list of all the greenways. If you would rather ride with a group, there are a number of options for older adults and those who are new to cycling:
City of Chesterfield Parks, Recreation and Arts
The City of Chesterfield offers weekly group bike rides for adults age 55 and older. They ride on greenways across the regional as well as the KATY Trail. The rides are free and designed to accommodate people of all fitness levels. They ride on the 1st and 3rd Mondays at 9:30am. Click here to download the 2019 schedule. Contact email@example.com or call 636.812.9500 to be placed on their mailing list.
AARP Boomers and Bikes
AARP offers free, guided bike rides on greenways one Saturday each month, May through October. Must be 50 years or older and wear a helmet. Visit their website for the complete schedule and to pre-register.
St. Louis Recreational Cyclists
St. Louis Recreational Cyclists is a bicycling group that offers “both moderate and more challenging group rides” in the metropolitan St. Louis area. Visit their website to learn more.
Women’s Cycling Community of Greater St. Louis
The Women’s Cycling Community (WC2) offers group rides on greenways, trails and roads around the region. They welcome all levels of riders from beginners needing a mentor to experienced. Find riding buddies, cycling tips, social events and adventures for women of all ages and abilities across the region. Visit their “meetup” web site to learn more.
If you know of other group rides for older adults or those who are new to cycling, tell us here.
Adventures With an Older Adult Group Bike Ride: Bike Stop Café to Bike Stop Cafe
Curious what a group bike ride is like? Mary Klauke, recreation specialist with the City of Chesterfield Parks, Recreation and Arts tells all:
“In spring 2017, we kicked off our inaugural season of weekly bike rides for adults age 55 and older on the Missouri Greenway: Monarch Chesterfield Levee. We had a really enthusiastic group of people ranging from 53 to 82 years old. Some of the participants had been riding for years; others were just getting back on a bike. We made it clear that everyone was welcome to set their own pace. We also wanted everyone to determine how far they wanted to go.
After several weeks, our group wanted to see some new sites so I organized rides on Grant’s Trail, the Al Foster Trail in the Meramec Greenway, Creve Coeur Park to Centennial Greenway and the KATY Trail.
We continued riding every Monday through the summer. It was exciting to see everyone increase their speed and endurance. By September we were ready for a “graduation ride.” I planned a trip that took us 18.3 miles from the Bike Stop Café in Chesterfield to the Bike Stop Café in St. Charles on the KATY Trail.
We met at the Chesterfield Bike Stop Café at Taubman Prestige Outlets near the food court. After a little rain, the sun came out (along with a full rainbow!) and we enjoyed a beautiful ride across the Missouri River to the KATY Trail. We took a pit stop and cookie and pie break at Thies Farms on Greens Bottom Road parallel to the trail. Seven miles further down the KATY Trail we pulled off and enjoyed a delicious lunch on the patio at Bike Stop Café in St. Charles. A few people opted to take the Bike Stop Café Shuttle back to Chesterfield and the rest of the group enjoyed the 18 mile return trip (for a total of 36 miles) back to their cars. It was a great way to cap off our inaugural season!”(Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be placed on their mailing list.)