Mature age cycling (among other sports such as swimming) is the go-to sport for mature people due to its many benefits for fitness, balance, coordination, muscle mass retention, fat shedding as well as the respiratory, heart and joint benefits. Apart from the physical benefits, you cannot discount the mental health benefits that a sport such as cycling delivers.
We can look at mature age cycling in the 35+ age group in two ways but it leads to the same conclusion.
Firstly, let’s consider a person that has been semi-active all their life, involved a lot in their career, notices the body starting to, or has become a little lumpy, understands that exercise gives some balance to their lifestyle. It is only natural for your body to slow down and you find that your metabolism is not as quick as it used to be. You eat and drink as before, maybe enjoy even more, but you see the scales creep up. It seems difficult to move this weight now, and you are too busy, and the gym membership is just not easy to do regularly. Previously, your weight just shed, now you have to work at it. You find yourself out of breath just walking! Sometimes you just got to get out of the house and have some “me” time!
Secondly, we consider the athlete. The person who has been competing religiously all of their lives. They are addicted to the challenge. They watch what they eat, they are exercising regularly, everything is in tip-top condition. But as you get older your performance starts to suffer, your recovery time starts to get longer. You are training at the same intensity but at a lesser volume. There is a 10% loss in performance in men and 15% loss in women starting from 35years onward and the VO2 Max reduction is the primary mechanism associated with the decline. Your exercise economy and lactate threshold both decline naturally.
How do the opposite ends of the spectrum compare? Quite simply, while the first type is looking for gains, increasing their fitness to slow their decline, the second group is looking to retain or slow the process of decline within themselves. Ultimately, they are reasonably similar goals even though they work in opposite directions and the core is your base fitness. Your base fitness is something that can be worked on continuously and is something that can be measured. There are plenty of resources on social media on how to establish your base fitness by testing yourself and regulating your power output and heart rate slowly building and maintaining your fitness, which naturally builds, strengthens and so leads to all the other benefits.
So, we know that we can get a decrease in aerobic capacity and lose muscle mass as we age. We naturally tend to train at a lesser volume. My back hurts! My legs ache! I get stiff! Yes, we have heard all the excuses we tell ourselves. Recovery takes longer as you get older but to aid the process, we can perform some simple stretching before and after to loosen ourselves up and keep those muscles warm, no matter what stage we are at. See my blog post for more methods. However, we can still train at an intensity and this controlled stress helps to condition yourself.
Another aspect we must look at in combination is our diet. Unfortunately, as we get older, we can’t bet on one task completely balancing the other vice, the proportions change and so we must aid our progress with some simple controls over what we put into our bodies. It is not a fast and hard rule, it is a lifestyle. High-calorie value foods will increase the fat as your body functions have slowed and are not able to process the fat as you once did. So, the answer is simply to eat more foods that have fewer calories which fruit and vegetables are the best low-calorie foods you can have. The next step is instead of thinking of these foods as a side, swap it around and think of them as the main. It is not about eating less and feeling hungry, it is about consuming the right low-calorie foods. I have had a great interview with Megan Taylor who specializes in creating tasty and nutritious vegan recipes. View it here!
So, what does mature age cycling have to do about this? It is a low impact, high aerobic that can be done at any level and at any age. While you can see the gains on a spin bike at home, nothing beats getting out and about and exploring areas where you would not normally go. There are a variety of bikes you can look at that will satisfy any need whether that be on-road or trail and they are geared to ensure you can get out of any situation. Or maybe you can go and see another country on a cycling holiday!
Mature age cycling exercise helps maintain stable levels of body fat and cholesterol and exercise build testosterone in men (and that is always a good thing!). If you have a condition where riding a bike is just a bit too strenuous then consider an E-bike. This adaption of the bicycle has opened up a whole new chapter for cycling allowing many more participants and still delivering the health benefits. Refer my blog on E-bikes here.
It is no secret that cycling also boosts mental health from the physical exercise and the mantra of a bit of self-meditation through to the camaraderie of participating in a group. Cycling gets you out into the fresh air and lets you get a dose of vitamin D and generally can give you a different perspective on aspects of everyday life. The exercise itself allows better sleep and recovery leading to clearer thought and stress relief. In a lot of cases using your friends as a sounding board when you are out for a ride can help you solve problems that have been on your mind.
So now that I have you all motivated to go out and get on your bike and get yourself fit, explore different areas, and enjoy the fresh air, you also need to look the part. Perfuro Gear designs and makes our cycling gear with two things in mind
- Comfort is paramount – Do not let your cycling kit distract you from your mission ahead!
- You want to enjoy your ride and there is a science behind the clothing whether that is a relaxed fit or race fit. The fabrics have a purpose to take sweat away from the body, so you feel comfortable. The compressive nature of the fabric holds everything together and most fabrics have a good SPF rating to protect you from the sun.
- Your chamois, or the padding in your shorts, has been specifically designed with your comfort with dual density sponges to take the weight and to act as a shock absorber. These elements are specifically designed with anatomy in mind, so you have the right reaction to the natural pressure points. It is often the case with chamois that less is more. Some models which look very cushioned can work against you as they put additional pressure on your point which can cause numbness and uncomfortable experience. Perfuro Chamois are Italian designed and made. Click here for our interview with Elastic Interface
- You Look Great! – Perfuro Gear is designed to a theme involving our natural elements. We use colours that let you stand out from the crowd and our original patterns and specific detailing offers a great look that compliments your shape whether you are wearing as a compressive or relaxed fit – we will straighten your curves!
Have a look around the website and feel free to leave your comments!