This post is brought to you in association with Quest 88 – we’d love to get the Cheetah Keeper cycling but his medical conditions mean that at the moment, it’s just not possible without an adapted bike…
Taking regular exercise is the key to maintaining a healthy mind and body – and the growth of inclusive cycling across the UK means sport is now open to all, regardless of age or ability.
What is inclusive cycling?
Cycling can be enjoyed by everyone, but the physical demands it places on riders mean it’s not always easily accessible to everyone, especially for those with physical impairments or limitations.
Inclusive cycling is all about making biking available to everyone – so if you or someone you know have additional needs that mean aren’t able or confident enough to cycle independently, there are inclusive cycling centres across the UK that can recommend a range adapted bicycles to fit all requirements.
Adaptive bikes are available for adults and children of all sizes and ability levels, with bicycles, tricycles and low riders all modified to aid balance, build confidence and improve fitness.
What are the benefits of inclusive cycling?
The most obvious benefit of cycling is the effect it has on fitness and the cardiovascular system – it offers a highly effective, low-impact workout that lowers the risk of heart disease and heart attack and also helps to strengthen the immune system to fight off illness.
A knock-on effect of the cardiovascular benefits is that cycling can help with weight loss. A great form of aerobic exercise, cycling is an effective way to speed up metabolism and burn calories – the faster you pedal, the more you burn.
It’s not all about the physical benefits though, inclusive cycling is also a great way to help improve mental health – cardiovascular exercise has been proven to help reduce stress and ease anxiety and getting out and about on a bike is a great way to improve your overall state of mind and can even help with depression.
If you have trouble sleeping then cycling can also help with this, and not just because you’ll be so worn out after a trip out on two wheels – cycling helps to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that is thought to block regenerative, deep sleeps.
Another psychological effect of cycling is that it can help improve memory function by increasing activity and building new brain cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for recalling memories.
And although cycling is often seen as a solitary activity, it can also be a great social pastime – getting out and about with a group of like-minded cyclists can help make it more fun and encourage you to push yourself further than you might do on your own. This can help engender a sense of community and belonging, something that those with mental or physical impairments can often miss out on. If you live near Shrewsbury, Quest 88 run inclusive bike rides, every Wednesday – a great way to socialise with like-minded people.
Making the most of inclusive cycling
As you can see, the benefits of inclusive cycling are wide ranging and can help you stay in shape both mentally and physically – you just need to make sure you get the right equipment and participate at the right level to make sure you get the most out of it.
If you need any specialist equipment, such as an adaptive bicycle, make sure you undertake a full consultation with an approved manufacturer who will give you a full overview of what’s available and help you choose the right bike to suit your needs.
And when it comes to getting out and about, make sure you do so at your own pace and don’t push yourself too far too quickly – hooking up with some riders of similar ability means you can all help each other to make the most of your road trips.
Do you know someone who has benefitted from joining a cycling club, particularly if they have mobility issues or use an adapted bicycle? Let us know in the comments.