4 reasons to ride: a prescription for good health

Dr. Mark Stewart and his son, Evan.

As temperatures go up, the bikes come out! Spring is the perfect time to dust off your bicycle and give this low impact sport a chance.

Dr Mark Stewart, ORA Orthopedics
Dr Mark Stewart, ORA Orthopedics

Physician, Dr. Mark Stewart, who practices at ORA Orthopedics’ Moline office, who now cycles with his son, Evan, has enjoy a shared interest in a sport that has brought the two closer together.

“This is truly a sport for every generation,” he says. “Once when I was riding on RAGBRAI, an older cyclist passed me on the road with a sign on the back of his bike that read, ‘Yeah, I’m 80!’”

Be sure to wave to Dr. Stewart and Evan if you see them on Quad-City paths and trails. They are easy to spot in their Team Stewart jerseys!

Check out Dr. Stewart’s 4 reasons you need to give cycling a go:

  1. Stay strong and protect your joints. “Cycling is so great because it’s low impact on your knees and back,” says Dr. Stewart, who specializes in sports medicine, as well as knee, hip, and shoulder replacement. “We all experience stiffness and a certain amount of arthritis that is a natural part of the aging process, but cycling keeps your joints fluid and your muscles strong without the extra impact.” From ages 3-93, there are few excuses not to exercise if you’ve got a bike.
  2. Cardio that’s actually fun. “Cycling out doors is a great workout to get your heart rate up while actually enjoying the scenery as you roll by. Start with short rides around your neighborhood and work up to longer distances. This is a sport that you can perform well as your technical skills improve. I’ve seen senior riders blast by younger ones, which is always a mental boost.”  You are never too old to bike!
  3. There’s a bike for every pain. “I see a lot of patients with knee, back, and shoulder pain. I tell them there’s always a bike that will accommodate you. If you’ve got back pain, try a recumbent. If you have knee pain, try an upright model.” Cycling is also great for folks recovering from orthopedic procedures or surgery when other forms of exercise place too much demands on the feet or joints.
  4. Reconnect with family and make new friends. “This is one benefit of exercise people tend to ignore,” says Dr. Stewart. “The best part of riding now is cycling with my son, Evan, who is a junior at Moline High School. Our time together is precious, so biking gives us an opportunity to ride, talk, and reconnect.” True health is not only strong bones and muscles, but also peace of mind — knowing your friends are there on the journey with you.

Check out the Quad Cities Bike Club, which offers numerous local rides for cyclists of every ability.