The benefits of exercising as we age are tremendous. It helps reduce fall risk, control joint swelling, improves mood and stamina and has many more health benefits. And yet for most people, inactivity increases as they age. By age 75, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports about one in three men and one in two women engage in no physical activity.

This reminds me of a famous George Bernard Shaw Quote: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Old Kranks riding group

I recently learned of a social bike riding club in the Conejo Valley that really encompasses the idea of creating a group to promote healthy aging. It is called the Old Kranks Bicycle Club and is open to members aged 50 and up. The group started back in 1986 when a local engineer, Herb Berger, met a local psychologist, Jules Meisler, and they started riding together. It naturally grew in size through word of mouth and formalized as a group for older adults in 1995.

This club incorporates physical exercise with a social component. They have rides scheduled five days a week and each group is divided based on level. They named the riding groups from old movies. The more relaxed group is called the “Easy Riders” and the more advanced group are known as the “Blazing Saddles.”  After every ride they stay together for coffee and social time.

With over 60 members, several of them are in their 80’s. Some members only stay for the social part, as they may no longer ride but still enjoy the company of their friends. The president himself, Earl Magpiong, is 85 years of age and still rides. He refers to the club as his second family. Clearly the social support of this group is just as important as the benefit from the physical exercise.

The Old Kranks Bicycle Club is a membership group. You can learn more about them here. Randy Wagner, a long-time member, said “When I retired I figured that I’d been sitting in a chair my entire career at my desk. I had to get out and get my heart beating. “

Getting your heart beating and keeping up with regular movement will help tremendously as we age. It is never too late to start and pick up a new active hobby. If you are new to exercise, always start slow and consult with your doctor. But never think you are not able to do more and to do something positive for your body and mind.

Socialization is so important as we age. It reduces stress and isolation which in turn helps with memory and longevity. Exercising in a social group is the best way to help with healthy aging in multiple ways.

Seek out a group that interests you to stay active. Look at your local senior center or parks and recreation program for group exercise classes. If you do not find what you are looking for then start your own group. Most senior centers will have a bulletin board where you can post to advertise a group you are starting.

Exercise does not need to be a chore. The Old Kranks group is a great example of finding a way to make exercise fun, engaging and social. With usually good weather and plentiful outdoor parks and open space in our area, find a fun way to enjoy the outdoors and stay active and social at every age.

Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at

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