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Bike Better than Running for Older People

If you are thinking of starting an exercise program late in life, the safest exercises are cycling and swimming.

A study from Japan shows that people with heart pain on exercising feel chest pain when they run and not when they pedal because it takes far more energy to run than to pedal. Running also causes more wear-and-tear injuries than pedaling. When you run, your foot hits the ground with a force greater than twice your body weight. This is transmitted up to jar your muscles, joints, and bones. Place your hands on the quad muscles in the front of your upper leg while you run. When you feet hit the ground, your quads shake like jelly. Pedaling and swimming are safer because you pedal in a smooth rotary motion and swim with the buoyancy of the water dampening forces on your muscles.

T Yamakado, A Kasai, T Masuda, Y Futagami, A Kawasaki, Y Zhang, T Nakano. Exercise-induced coronary spasm: Comparison of treadmill and bicycle exercise in patients with vasospastic angina. Coronary Artery Disease 7: 11 (NOV 1996):819-822.

Checked 4/9/08

May 11th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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