Seniors Cycling Their Way to Health: Around the World in 28 Days

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You never forget how to ride a bike.

Even if you haven’t cycled since middle school, it’s not too late to ride again, and seniors at ASC residences across Canada aim to prove the old adage this February.

Going the Distance:  ASC International Bicycle Tour

Four weeks, 11 countries, and 31 teams-the challenge is on! Between February 1st and 28th, seniors will be competing virtually to see which residence can peddle the furthest.

Using the Motiview system, an innovative technology developed in Norway by Motitech, seniors peddle using stationary bikes or peddlers while watching virtual biking videos on a Smart TV.

bike tour by screenIn use at Courtyards on Eagleson for the last year, the program is a hit at the dedicated memory care residence.  Decked out in their best road warrior gear, the room comes alive with music, singing, chatting, and elders sharing experiences through reminiscing!

“The residents really enjoy it.  The virtual biking videos of Ottawa bring back memories and trigger conversations about local things”, says Bethany Laughton, Activity Director.  “One bike ride takes us along the canal, and we see the beautiful tulips…triggering a conversation about the tulips in Ottawa.”

With more than 2,000 videos from countries around the world to choose from, the possibilities are endless. From childhood homes to favorite vacation spots, users can virtually cycle wherever they want!

“The virtual videos … let us explore places we have never been before”, says Bethany.  “We have biked along beaches in Australia and amongst the high traffic in India.  It’s amazing.  And, it’s very realistic.  If there are people walking on the path as our “bike” approaches, residents stop pedalling so that they slow down!

The cycling system has been especially valuable during the pandemic, when residents were isolating, because it allowed them to explore the world beyond their suite.  AND, it provided exercise during a time when they weren’t allowed to walk around as much.”

Seniors participating in the national event, Going The Distance, will tour a different country every few days:

  • Denmark
  • Sweden
  • Iceland
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Australia
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • Israel
  • United Arab Emirates.

Throughout the month, seniors will challenge themselves to see how far they can ride around the world. Festivities, crafts, games, and international fare prepared by our Red Seal Certified Chefs will contribute to the atmosphere of fun and adventure as we explore different cultures!

Join All Seniors Care as we Go the Distance-family, friends, and guests are invited to join via zoom.  Please call individual residences to register & learn more.

Read on to find out why we’re cycling for health and how you can help.

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Why Cycling is Good for Seniors:

Cycling has many benefits for more mature riders, including some you may not have considered. Health benefits including slowing the ageing process, reducing the chance of falls in everyday life, improved mental health and socialization, and overall improvements in wellbeing.

#1 Cycling Can Boost Your Mental Health 

Just like physical health, your mental health can decline with age. Even if you haven’t experienced any mental health issues during your life, your senior years can bring a host of new challenges.

Sleep and mental health are closely connected, and difficulty sleeping is a common complaint among seniors. They can have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep for a full night’s rest. Exercising can improve both the quality and quantity of sleep.

#2 Boost Your Immune System

Cycling can actually help your immune system fight off nasty bugs. The thymus organ is responsible for the body’s immune cells (called T cells).  As people age, the thymus shrinks and our immune system declines by 2-3% each year. By middle age, the thymus is down to 15% of its maximum size so the body relies on the antibodies it has gained from fighting germs over the years.

A study by Aging Cell of 125 long distance cyclists aged in their 80s found their immune systems were more robust because they were producing as many T cells as someone in their 20s. Physical activity like cycling can help the body flush out bacteria from the lungs and airways which reduces the chance of a cold or flu taking hold. A rise in body temperature while exercising also prevents bacteria from growing and fights infection.

Even so, since few can boast to being long distance cyclists, most elderly individuals do not respond to immune challenge as robustly as when young.

And for that reason, seniors in Canada need your help.

How Can We Support Older People to Be Active during the Pandemic?

I am going the distanceOne of the impacts of the Covid-19 restrictions on older people is a reduction in physical activity. As All Seniors Care has worked to keep seniors in our communities healthy, there has been an unavoidable reduction physical activity because of reduced participation in community activities such as shopping and socializing, and a reduction in participation in formal exercise, such as attendance at exercise classes, gyms, golf, swimming, and other group activities.

As the world moves from the first wave of the pandemic through the second, it is essential that we consider how best to support the health of older people and people with chronic health conditions.

Being protected from getting sick is important because, even though many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others -especially seniors-  may get a severe illness, have long-term health effects, or even die. Since there is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect an individual, it’s important that we all get the vaccine.

An effective vaccine will protect a person who receives it by lowering their chances of getting COVID-19 if they are exposed to the coronavirus. Widespread vaccination for the coronavirus means that it will not infect as many people. This will limit spread through communities and senior’s retirement residences.

What’s Happening at All Seniors Care

Even though the ASC Seniors Games has been rescheduled due to COVID-19 restrictions, we have many exciting plans ahead! It gives us great pleasure to see our residents thriving and expressing themselves joyfully in the comfort of our retirement communities — a place they can happily and proudly call home.

In keeping with the All Seniors Care Living Centres’ core philosophy – Caring is Our Number One Concern – we take pride in ensuring the highest level of care is offered to our residents. Please visit the All Seniors Care Facebook page or search for a specific location on Facebook to find an individual residence’s page and see regular photos from all the daily activities and events. You can also check out our latest news for more info on community events as you continue your search for the optimal living situation for yourself or a family member!

During the 2019 Road Worlds for Seniors Championships, the Motitech film crew stopped by The Courtyards on Eagleson to see the residents in action!

Editor and Writer:   Julianna McLeod

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