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Cycle your way to Better Health
May 25, 2022

Cycling for Better Health

Cycling has been an activity that we’ve really embraced during our retirement. (We always talk about trying new things or exploring interests further in this phase of life!) We started off slowly with small goals, set more challenging goals, and it’s become a major part of our exercise routine. We love cycling for many reasons, we love that we can do it alone, or we can do it together. It gives us time to think, to wonder, and to imagine.
As we’ve spent more time researching, we’ve learned about the huge benefits of cycling and how this can be enormously beneficial in your health journey on many levels. As we age, our health begins to decline, and that’s just a fact of life. If we don’t pay attention to our health, and do all we can to maintain, or improve it, it can actually decline faster.
You know, as we enter retirement, we can bring with us bad habits, poor nutrition, and maybe even a lack of exercise. These habits can send you on a path of rapid decline. The Mayo clinic tells us that a normal part of the aging process is a change in heart health. As we age, our bones, our muscles, and our joints weaken and shrink, which in addition isn’t helpful at all. There are also other areas where problems occur; digestive system changes, bladder and urinary tract issues, and even memory and thinking skills sometimes start to go awry. The list goes on.
We started to look for ways to slow or reverse this process, and although we never found the fountain of youth,we did find cycling!  As wedding presents to each other, we bought each other bikes, that unfortunately sat in our garage and collected dust during the years of hectic careers and child rearing.  We never found the time to get into it. Once we retired and moved to Marco Island, we committed to up our cycling journey again on those old bikes. We knew there were better out there, but because we made a commitment to not just keep on buying new stuff and things, we agreed that if we could both use our “old” bikes consistently, we would consider purchasing bikes with newer technology. 
We began our cycling journey; first we did two miles, then three, and then five miles. Initially we both felt it was a little bit boring, but as we progressed and challenged ourselves to put on more miles, we really felt a change. Then we researched the benefits of cycling and we realized how much better it would be for us if we could do it more often and for longer rides.
Carving out the time to dedicate to a long 10-20+ mile ride was an adjustment, but now its great! We began to realize that our new commitment to cycling was helping us to lose weight, have more energy and be more alert! It got to the point that when Mark turned 65, he set a goal to bike 65 miles for his 65th birthday and guess what??? He achieved his goal!
As promised, we agreed that if we both could achieve 3 times/week and 30 miles, we would begin to look into getting new bikes! We decided on brand new state of the art e-bikes which you will hear more about in the future because they really have changed our cycling habits.

Why are we obsessed with cycling?  Let’s jump to the health benefits:

Cycling hits all targets: mental health, physical health, and it broadens your social circle. Let’s start with mental wellness. The YMCA did a study that concluded that people that people who have a physical and active lifestyle have a wellbeing score %higher than inactive people. If you set goals like distance, speed, cadence, or time, and you reach those goals, you get improved confidence which means great mental health.
Next, let’s talk about weight loss. Any kind of activity is good, but cycling for us, has really begin to show us a steady increase in weight loss. When you’re riding, you can burn between 400 and 1000 thousand calories in an hour. We can’t guarantee you will lose weight, however the math is simple: if you burn more calories than you take in, you should be losing weight. You need to have a controlled calorie deficit, and the appropriate protein intake to get the maximum effects. Also, cycling doesn’t just burn fat, it builds muscles too. As we age, we begin to lose muscle as well as the tissues around our bones, and our bones become brittle. Having strong muscles is really important and a benefit of cycling.
Another health benefit of cycling is that it strengthens your immune system. This form of exercise done on a regular basis will help to strengthen your upper respiratory system. It can also help reduce the chance of common colds, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The University of Glasgow did a study of 260,000 individuals over six years and found that cycling to work can reduce a rider’s risk of heart disease or cancer by 50%.
Cycling is a low impact exercise that minimizes stress on your body while simultaneously pumping lots of blood and oxygen into your brain, which will in turn boost your brain power, help you with sleep, prevent memory loss, and and ward off chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Most of all, cycling is FUN!  We both embrace this new sport and feel a lot better for doing it.