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

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