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Riding a bike with PD, is it safe for a person with balance problems?

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

I recently was asked by an acquaintance if it would be safe for a person with PD that had balance issues to ride a bike . I thought I would share the answser I gave him.

Regular exercise can improve mobility, balance and mood for people with the disease. One particular activity that is proven to be very successful is bike riding. While it may not help everyone, research has shown that many patients have experienced significant benefits by cycling regularly. Riding a bike can improve overall movement, tremors, rigidity, aerobic capacity, cognitive function, and mood. I can understand the reluctance to start riding if you have not ridden for some time and have balance problems, There is a saying that you never forget how to ride a bike. That may be true for you. It is true for the guy in this video

The steps I would take to find out:

Buy or rent a bicycle that fits you, or bring your bicycle to a bike shop to get a tune up if you haven’t ridden it for a while. It will be good to know for sure that the brakes work and the tires have the correct air pressure before you ride. Have them fit the bike to you. Having the seat a little lower than normal may help you get your foot on the ground when you stop. Get a helmet that fits. The first time you ride, bring the bike to a bike path or park or residential street without much traffic. Have someone come with you to hold the bike when you are getting on/off and starting. Make your first ride short. Practice starting, stopping, turning, but avoid sharp turns. If you feel comfortable, take longer rides. Ride with a friend for safety. I have found that the best tool for fixing a bike, if it needs repair during a ride, is a cell phone. Make sure someone can come get you if you need help. If you still don’t feel comfortable riding a bike after a bit of practice, but you still want to ride outside, try a recumbent bicycle or a tricycle or an electric assist bicycle. I purchased an e-bike about 3 years ago. It makes riding easier and more fun. Features that help: A bike is most unstable when moving at a slow speed. The motor assist allows you to gain speed and stability quickly from a stop. The e-bike I have has hydraulic disk brakes, similar to what is on a motorcycle. They make sure the bike stops when you need to stop. 2.5 inch fat tires make it hard for the tires to get stuck in a crack on the road and gives the ability to ride on gravel or grass.. I can ride up hills, with the help of the electric motor assist, that would have required walking without it.

I can ride fast if I want, it makes me feel 15 years younger, when I could ride that fast without the help of an electric motor. I hope that helps. — Jud an avid, life long bicycle rider, was diagnosed with PD more than 11 years ago at the age of 58.



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