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Let’s Ride! Bicycle Your Way To Healthy Living A fun way to stay young at heart – and heart healthy!

The phrases say it all – “Easy as riding a bike!” and, “Once you learn how, you never forget!”  Riding a bicycle really is something many of us find to be a lifelong experience, even with some gaps here and there.  And one reason for that is how easy it is for almost anyone to incorporate riding a bicycle into their life – and how rewarding and fun!  If you’ve been off of yours (or just never got on one) maybe it’s time to kick the tires again.
Every turn of the wheel brings you so many physical and mental benefits, and is one of the easiest ways to stay fit and have fun at any point in life.  And it has the practical option of actually being transportation in addition to exercise.
Bicycles do not discriminate based on age.  The youngest and oldest in our world can enjoy bicycling equally. They can even enjoy it together! 
And for an aging population, getting back in the bicycle saddle can provide some excellent health benefits, including:
·      Heart Health: cycling can increase your heart health and decrease chances of coronary disease and strokes.
·      Mental Health:  regular, moderate exercise can help release those endorphins that make you feel good and give you a more positive outlook. Exercise like cycling is a good way to reduce stress – and reducing stress helps your mental outlook andyour physical health.
·      Improved Mobility & Physical Conditioning: cycling helps you have stronger legs, better coordination, improved range of hip and knee motion, more limber ligaments – and that keeps you happy, healthy, and independent in younger years but is especially important as you roll towards (or are in) your senior years.  And cycling really uses your entire body, so you benefit from some overall conditioning.
·      Improved Physical Stamina: regular exercise like bicycling can increase your overall physical stamina, letting you enjoy more things with more ease.
·      Weight Control:As we all age, our weight tends to creep up easier and our metabolism is not firing as fast.  Even mild to moderate cycling can burn in the neighborhood of 250-300 calories an hour (a nice neighborhood to cycle through!) and can increase muscle mass (and muscle burns fat even when your body is at rest) – and both lead to healthier weight. 
More Benefits of Bicycling
·      Easy! Almost anywhere, almost any time of year, and it doesn’t cost a lot. And really – once you learn how, you know how, even if you need a little practice.  There is no complicated learning curve with this form of exercise.
·      Fast! Any extra 15-30 minutes you have to just get on and ride is beneficial to your body and mind. And you don’t have to make a special trip to a class or a gym, just walk out the door.  Or not, in the case of an indoor stationary bike!
·      Fun! Exercise should be fun.  When it is, you engage in it more often and often for longer periods of time – and that means more benefits (other than just the FUN part!)  You can get out and see the world around you while getting your daily exercise.
·      Safe!  Because you control the difficulty of the terrain (don’t start out trying to bike up a mountain, please) and the pace and duration, and because it is relatively low impact, it is a great way to exercise safely with reduced risk of injury or strains.
Like any form of exercise, you should use common sense before beginning or changing existing routines.
·      Talk to your doctor. Check to be sure you don’t have any health concerns that might make hopping on a bicycle a bad idea.
·      Keep safety first.  Make sure your bike is in great working order, wear all the recommended safety equipment (helmets are a MUST!) and be aware of traffic rules and any regulations where you want to bike.  If you ride on the roads, you need to observe laws. 
·      Practice makes perfect.  If you haven’t ridden in a long time and don’t own your own bike, ask to borrow one from a friend, or contact a local bike shop and rent one for a while. 
·      Something for everyone.Talk about how you see yourself riding (terrain, speeds, goals) and do some research/ask advice on the best bike for you. Bikes come in many varieties and price ranges. 
Once you have turned the pedals on some test runs, you can invest in your own bike that will meet your needs. 
Don’t forget there are a lot of 3 wheelers out there if you find balance is an issue for you but would still love to get out and ride!  And if you have physical challenges, there may still be a bike for you.
·      Be smart.  Don’t start out with a 50-mile ride.  Go slow, take short rides, and gradually increase your distance and pace.  No law says you have to take one long ride – take multiple shorter rides each day!
Find out if any local parks have biking trails if your neighborhood does not offer a safe place to ride.  You can also check into riding groups of all fitness levels if you’d like to make new friends and ride with other people. 
What are you waiting for?  Let’s ride!