By 60, adults know what’s important when exercising and specifically, when riding bicycles– comfort! Let’s face it, by 60 our bodies aren’t quite what they were in our 20s. We need a more pampered biking experience or, let’s say, the right features that minimize stress on our body. If you are over 60 and shopping for a bicycle, look for comfortable seats and designs that keep you upright as much as possible.
If you are serious about finding the right bicycle for seniors, start with the right bike type. Cruisers or comfort bikes are the best choice for seniors. You’ll notice you sit straight when riding thanks to higher handlebars and this is good news for your back. These types of bikes typically have comfortable seats (saddles), wider tires and fewer gears which adds up to a smoother ride and less to think about.
Now, here’s the reality check. Riders over 60 have to go well beyond ensuring the bicycle seat is comfortable. They need to make certain the seat easily accommodates the perineum (the region between the thighs) and sit bones (the protruding bones that sit underneath the flesh and muscle tissues of the glutes). In this area, there are vital nerves and arteries that carry blood and nerve function to the entire lower body. Pressure on this area causes numbness and results in everything from sexual dysfunction to prostate troubles.
Comfortable bike seats or saddles are available in many sizes. Look for one between 8 and 12 inches wide with extra gel padding to accommodate the sit bones. Seat shape is important too. There are three shapes that are generally better at not causing pressure in the sit bone area. Seats in the shape 1) horse shoe 2)noseless saddle 3) saddle with a deep trench down the middle. Some saddles come in two pads, one for each sit bone. Look also for a seats covered in leather or a high-tech fabric that will lessen moisture and prevent chafing.
If you are concerned about your back or perineum or sit bones recumbent bikes could be the answer. Recumbent bikes place the rider in a laid-back reclining position, providing support for the back and reducing pressure on the perineum and sit bones. Paul K. Nolan, M.D. lists the medical benefits of recumbent bikes to include reduced saddle sores, better weight distribution that relieves pressure on nerves, better postural alignment of the spine, reduced low back stress, and relief of stress on the arms and shoulders. Nolan also notes that recumbents offer a better range of vision for the rider, making the bikes safer in traffic than conventional bikes. Recumbent bikes are perhaps, the best bicycles for seniors.
Once you have selected the most comfortable bicycle, don’t forget riders safety essentials: a helmet and sunglasses, especially polarized sunglasses to block glare. If you wear eyeglasses, no need to worry, Solar Shield sunglasses are designed so you can wear them over your glasses. You may know these sunglasses as ‘fitsovers’.
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