In garages and driveways across the country, people are getting bikes out of storage and taking advantage of the milder weather. Research has found that people who spend more time in nature are less likely to suffer depression and thanks to innovative companies, people with mobility limitations can still enjoy the simple pleasure of a bike ride; wind in the hair, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells around them.
Older adults who have difficulty walking or cycling can benefit from the social interaction and a welcome change of scenery that riding with a caregiver driver provides. A peaceful ride along a bike bath or smooth trail is made possible with innovations like The Duet, a tandem wheelchair bicycle or The Bike Chair, which is hoped to be available this year for purchase in Australia.
Researchers at Stanford University found that people who walk (or cycle) in nature rather than high-traffic urban settings showed less activity in the brain region associated with depression and experienced less anxiety and negative thoughts. Being out in nature can also improve feelings of happiness, provide a sense of purpose and reduce blood pressure among older adults. Being outdoors can also help adults get a better night’s sleep, increase Vitamin D levels, improve mood and even give the immune system a boost.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s who once enjoyed cycling may also benefit from riding with a spouse or other loved one, giving patients and caregivers happy moments and opportunities for meaningful interactions. Bringing back a sense of joy from riding a bike helps provide purpose and meaning for adults of all ages and abilities. Who couldn’t use some improvement in their overall state of mind and sense of well-being?