Mountain biking has gained in popularity in the last few years, particularly among seniors.
People are continuing to realize the immense health and wellness benefits of exercising on a regular basis. Mountain biking provides many health benefits that simple walking, jogging, or running does not.
According to a study conducted by the British Medical Association, people who ride a bike for at least 20 miles per week are more likely to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by nearly 50%. Because mountain biking uses many of the body’s large groups of muscles, it results in the heart working on a steady basis, increasing the fitness of the heart by anywhere from 3% to 7%.
Mountain biking is also low impact. Compared to many other types of exercises, it puts significantly less stress on joints, which is very important for seniors especially.
The exercise can also lead to a decreased risk of suffering from disease, improved mood and reduced stress. Getting outside for your exercise is also great for your mental well-being. The sunlight provides a wonderful source of Vitamin D.
There are some special things that seniors need to keep in mind if they’re mountain biking. Here are six tips for how you can take care of yourself on the trails.
1. Let Others Know Where You Are Going
Mountain biking takes you to some places where you’ll be by yourself, or only with your biking partner. There is some concern, then, about someone else being around to help you if you need assistance.
It’s very important that before you go mountain biking, you let a family member, friend or caregiver know where you are going. Tell them your plans for the day, your location and how long you intend to be out.
Set a check-in time where you will call this person when you are finished. If something goes wrong and you need assistance, this person will know it based on you not calling within a certain time window.
2. Bring a First Aid Kit — and Know How to Use It
A First Aid kit is an essential piece of safety equipment for senior mountain bikers. It’s as important as a helmet and proper footwear.
While mountain biking is a low-impact activity on your body, you will often not be traveling on smooth terrain. A tree root, a ditch or something else on the ground may cause you to fall, stumble or hurt yourself.
In any of these cases, you may need a First Aid kit to clean and tend to a wound. Even if it’s a minor cut or scrape, it’s essential that you tend to it right away so that it doesn’t get worse.
A First Aid kit is only useful if you know how to use it, though. So, it’s not just important to acquire a fully-stocked First Aid kit; it’s important to know how to use everything in it, too.
3. Bring a Bike Repair Kit — and Know How to Use It
Again, mountain biking can be unpredictable sometimes. You’ll be traveling over some uneven terrain at times, even if you’re only riding a beginner trail.
Because of this, your bike may sustain some damage that needs to be fixed immediately. This is why it’s important to have a bike repair kit with you. A good kit will have not just a tire pump, but also tools to patch a hole in the tire and put some parts back together if they come loose.
The bike kit is important because mountain biking will often take you away from people. If your bike sustains some damage, then, it’ll be important for you to fix it so you don’t have to carry it back to your starting spot. There also may not be someone else around you to help.
4. Bring Enough Water and Food
Exercise is good, but it also requires you to refuel your body. When you’re at a gym or walking around the neighborhood, it’s easy to bring a water bottle and a small snack bar in your hand.
It’s equally as important, if not more so, when you’re mountain biking. Your bike should have a space to hold a water bottle, and you should carry enough extra water in your backpack (along with snacks) to last your entire trip.
5. Tend to Medical Needs
If you require daily medications, make sure that you take them before you go on your mountain biking trip. If you would need to take them during your trip because of timing, make sure to bring them with you.
If you’re a diabetic, you may want to bring a tester with you so you can record your blood sugar level as you take a break. Then, make sure you bring medication (or food) with you if you need to compensate for your blood sugar being off.
If you have urinary incontinence issues, try using washable incontinence briefs. You often won’t be close to a bathroom while mountain biking, so planning ahead is necessary. There are men’s sports underwear which cater for light incontinence needs and are washable incontinence briefs are great for sports and other exercise.
6. Wear Appropriate Clothing
Finally, make sure you are wearing clothing that’s appropriate for not only the exercise but for the weather. Extremely loose-fitting clothing is typically not good for mountain biking, because there’s a danger it could get caught in a spoke of the wheel. At the same time, you don’t want to wear clothing that’s too tight that it may cut off your circulation or, at the very least, be uncomfortable.
Make sure to check the weather before you go out, too, and adjust your clothing so you’re warm enough but don’t overheat. Wear a hat to shade you from the bright sun and sunglasses if appropriate, too.
Lastly, make sure you have the proper footwear that will support your feet while mountain biking. You may even consider biking gloves to keep your hands from getting cut, scraped or chapped.