Pedaling Towards Healthier Aging: The Benefits of Cycling for Seniors

Bike riding is a low-impact exercise that can provide major health dividends as we age. While overall cycling rates have declined in Australia over the past decade 1, participation among Australians aged 50+ actually increased from 6.7% riding weekly in 2011 to 8.4% in 2021 2. Recognising these trends and the unique health incentives, it’s worthwhile revisiting the advantages cycling offers seniors.


Maintaining muscle mass and joint mobility becomes increasingly difficult with age. Cycling just 30 minutes per day can preserve leg strength and flexibility well into your 70s and 80s. The smooth, circular pedaling motion helps lubricate hip, knee and ankle joints. Meanwhile the light resistance builds leg muscles to keep you stable walking up stairs or standing from a seated position. Cycling outdoors also promotes better balance as you navigate uneven terrain.

Getting the heart pumping is crucial for longevity. Just a half hour of moderate cycling can achieve about 50-60% of heart rate maximum for most seniors 3. Sustaining an elevated heart rate stimulates the heart muscle, enhances blood flow, and reduces the likelihood of disorders like high blood pressure or atherosclerosis later on. The result is healthier cardiovascular function.

Mental Wellness and social bonds

Riding a bicycle isn’t just a form of physical exercise but also functions as a relaxing outdoor activity. The rhythmic pedaling, fresh air and enjoyable scenery have calming neurological effects that relieve stress. Cycling also enables important social connections through group rides. The shared interest helps form bonds over a healthy hobby. So, while cycling participation faces obstacles like safety concerns and accessibility, the evidence continues highlighting benefits too significant to ignore. It’s never too late to start rolling!


For seniors who want to ride bikes but have concerns over accessibility, following a few guidelines can make cycling more feasible and enjoyable:


When first taking up cycling, it’s important not to overexert yourself. Start by riding 10-15 minutes and building up gradually over weeks and months. Setting goals like “ride 30 minutes three times next week” helps you incrementally increase activity rather than burn out early on.


Finding the right cycling routes can greatly enhance your biking experience. Explore local maps, online cycling communities, or apps dedicated to cycling routes to discover paths suitable for you. 


Upright bike styles, cushioned seats, adjustable stems and smooth tires provide more comfortable rides. Try different bikes and customise based on your needs and ability. Electric pedal assist bikes are another great option allowing you to pedal comfortably with limited effort. 


Look for local cycling groups tailored to seniors or ask your local bike shop about regular group rides appropriate for your skill level. Having others join you and share route advice helps motivate you and is a great way to meet new people.

If you have any questions about cycling in WA, don’t hesitate to reach out to WestCycle for support. Happy pedaling! 

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Tim Roach

Elected Director | Off Road

Tim has been in senior leadership and strategic development roles for more than twenty years. He is currently Director of Executive Education in the School of Business and Law at Edith Cowan University and is a past Assistant Commissioner and General Manager in the public service. He is an Accountant (FCPA) and sits on the Divisional Council of CPA Australia.

Tim has been involved in racing mountain bikes, BMX and triathlon for many years, both as a father of two children who race and as a past and current bike racer. Tim is the current over-50 State Champion in downhill mountain biking. He is also a very regular and enthusiastic transport cyclist; frequently seen in a suit and tie riding to meetings in the city on a mountain bike.

Denise Sullivan

Chair | Governance & Risk Committee

Denise Sullivan has a career spanning over twenty years in senior management and executive roles in the state public and not-for-profit health sectors.

In her usual role of Director Chronic Disease Prevention with the Western Australian Department of Health, she leads the development of state chronic disease and injury prevention policy and planning frameworks and contributes to the shaping of the national preventive health policy agenda.

Her professional interests cover many aspects of chronic disease and injury prevention encompassing health communications, health promotion and research, public policy on health and workforce planning and development.

She has a particular interest in furthering collaborations with other sectors with a mutual interest in promoting a more active and healthier WA community, and creating and sustaining environments that support this. Denise is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Leadership WA Signature Program, and an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and the Australian College of Health Service Managers.

Denise is a recreational cyclist and recent convert to mountain biking (although trainer wheels still on!).