New research has found that cyclists between the ages of 50 to 83 experienced cognitive and mental health benefits from riding a cycle, whether it was electrically assisted or pedal powered.
Cycle Boom tried to understand cycling among the older population and how this affected independence, health and wellbeing, with the purpose of designing an environment to help people continue to cycle in old age or to reconnect with cycling.
The study lasted 8 weeks and tested elderly riders at least 3 times a week on executive functions as well as processing speed, before and after a 30-minute ride.
Surprisingly, researchers found that the e-cycle riders had an even greater improvement in brain function and mental well being than pedal cycle riders.
It was reported that e-cycle riders spent 28% of the time in eco mode and 15% with the motor off.
The wider implication is that e-cycles have a hugely important role to play in keeping elderly populations healthy, not just physically but mentally. It comes at a time when the elderly are increasing as a percentage of the overall population in many societies.
Lead researcher Dr Louise-Ann Leyland commented: “It is really encouraging that this research suggests older adults’ cognitive function could be improved by cycling in the natural/urban environment, even when that was on an electrically assisted cycle.”
In Auroville, we are blessed with an extensive network of well-maintained cycle paths, separate from the main roadways. Could we increase the elderly’s confidence and security by creating a cycle path all the way to Kuylapalayam? Or even to Pondicherry? Would it help reduce motorized traffic?
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In 2007, in Switzerland, our employer offered us an e-cycle at a reduced price. The company was trying to reduce its carbon footprint by getting us to cycle to work rather than drive. I seized the opportunity! Suddenly, I was able to go down to Lake Geneva for swimming without being discouraged in advance by the steep incline back home, and I started to exercise much more…