It’s not easy to keep being physically active as time goes by, and cycling might sound like an easy way to keep your aging joints moving. According to new research, however, older Americans should think twice before rolling on two wheels.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found that recent years have brought a dramatic increase in injuries among older bicyclists, and they don’t mean minor scrapes and bruises.
The report shows a 28 increase in adults over 18 getting a serious bike injury between 1998 and 2013, 16 percent of which were head traumas; meanwhile, hospital admissions spiked with 120 percent.
It was also found that older bicyclists were responsible for much of the increase in injuries, as the number of patients over the age of 45 needing the services of the emergency department jumped with 81 percent during the study period.
Senior researcher Dr. Benjamin Breyer, associate professor of urology at UCSF, explains a trend connecting the rise in cycling in adults over 45 appears and the reports on injuries and hospital admissions. The logical conclusion is that the risk of severely injuring oneself while cycling significantly increases with age.
Breyer added the older demographic among US cyclists requires greater attention from concerned authorities. Among the researchers’ suggestions are improved infrastructure – more bike lanes – and encouraging rider and motorist education, as well as awareness on the necessity if using personal protective equipment, such as helmets and vests.
Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study adds important insight to the discussion of bicycle safety. Jason Vargo, assistant scientist at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has conducted his own study on the matter.
His results, issued last month in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that an increasing adult ridership in the US is linked to a shift in the number of fatal cycling accidents from children to adults.
According to the CDC report, death rates among cyclists younger than 15 have dropped by 92 percent between 1975 and 2012, while fatality rates for cyclists over the age of 35 have spiked significantly. Moreover, the fact that cyclists are in tight competition for the city roads is another factor that adds to the increase in accidents.
Image Source: Slow Civilizing Cycling