Ageless benefits of bikingRiding a bike is one of those things in life that can make you feel ageless. A new bike program at Grand Arbor’s Nelson Wellness Center in Alexandria provides residents and members the opportunity to get on a bike again. The wellness center received a grant from the UCare Fund last October to launch a year-round bike program.
By: Amy Chaffins, Alexandria Echo Press
Riding a bike is one of those things in life that can make you feel ageless.
A new bike program at Grand Arbor’s Nelson Wellness Center in Alexandria provides residents and members the opportunity to get on a bike again.
The wellness center received a grant from the UCare Fund last October to launch a year-round bike program.
Their inventory now includes: nine indoor cycling bikes with upright handlebar attachments and larger seats; and 18 outdoor models that range from comfort bikes with seats and pedals lower to the ground, fitness bikes, three-wheeled trikes, recumbent bikes, a tandem bike, a side-by-side tandem and a wheelchair tandem bike.
Angie Johnson is the wellness director at Nelson Wellness Center. She’s also a competitive cyclist and she wrote the grant for the bike program.
“The goal is focusing on the aging population and helping them continue to be active and live full lives,” she said. “Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to give up riding a bike.”
She said her motivation for writing the grant stemmed from leading tours of the wellness center’s cardio room.
“Everybody says, ‘I used to ride a bike,’ and they say they can’t anymore because of the balance component or the bike’s too heavy to maneuver… hearing that and reading the research about the benefits of biking kind of planted the idea of a biking program and getting people back outside to exercise and enjoy life.
“The bike program is about whole-person wellness and being able to do something like [riding a bike] again,” Johnson said.
The bike program is unique to senior living communities like Grand Arbor, Johnson said.
BIKE PROGRAM LAUNCHES THIS SPRING
In the spring, the Nelson Wellness Center Bike Program will officially launch.
Johnson said residents and wellness center members are excited about the bike program and especially for spring when they can get those bikes outside.
“People are excited to ride again,” Johnson said. “A lot say they feel like a more complete person by still being able to ride a bike.”
Eventually, there will be biking classes, events, weekly group rides held by staff or volunteers and bikes will be available for residents and members to check out for things like taking a visiting grandchild on a ride using the side-by-side bike.
SPECIFIC BENEFITS OF BIKING
Johnson said during the first year of the bike program she expects to see overall health improvements and people getting stronger.
For example, she said, biking can be beneficial for people with diseases like Parkinson’s.
“There are a lot of studies about Parkinson’s and the effects of riding a bike. One of the studies shows that if you get on a tandem bike with someone with Parkinson’s and you pedal together, and you help them pedal faster than they would on their own, it stimulates the neural pathways from their brain to their body and they’re able to function and do things better. On the bike, the motion is able to keep going. So it gives them some freedom. Biking stimulates that and they’re able to do things better.”
Johnson said she also hopes the bike program is well established this time next year with dedicated bike riders.
“I think by encouraging them to try something new in some cases, or try something that’s adapted to help them, there’s freedom in being able to continue to do something and do it mostly on your own, especially things you enjoy. You can grow old and still be an ageless athlete,” she said.