Anyone who has ever been lucky enough to visit Amsterdam knows it is a city filled with bikers. Most visitors are still shocked by the vast numbers of bicycles, and the wide variety of cyclists: from students to police officers and from bank staff to couriers, cycling is the most egalitarian mode of transport. Lots of government officials, even King Willem-Alexander cycle regularly.
More and more American cities are making dedicated bike lanes and bike share programs available to tourists and commuters alike. We know how good it feels to ride, to explore or get where you are going by your own leg power. And with the advent of bike sharing, you don't even need to own and store a bike to reap the many health benefits of cycling.
Prof Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Aging at the University of Birmingham, quoted on The Guardian.com:
"Our findings debunk the assumption that aging automatically makes us more frail. Our research means we now have strong evidence that encouraging people to commit to regular exercise throughout their lives is a viable solution to the problem that we are living longer but not healthier.”
A great added benefit to the known health effects of cycling is a measurable boost to the immune system." An organ called the thymus, which makes immune cells called T-cells, normally starts to shrink from the age of 20. But the thymuses of older cyclists were found to be generating as many T-cells as those of young people."
We have known for a long time that being outdoors and cardio exercise contribute to feelings of well being and can help with mood disorders even for people who are clinically depressed. Now we know that hopping on a bike regularly can help fend off illness.
Prof Stephen Harridge, director of the Centre of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences at King’s College London, said: “The findings emphasize the fact that the cyclists do not exercise because they are healthy, but that they are healthy because they have been exercising for such a large proportion of their lives.
“Their bodies have been allowed to age optimally, free from the problems usually caused by inactivity."
Aging Optimally biking all the way!