The bicycle makes the eyes smile: exercise, aging, and psychophysical well-being in older Italian cyclists

Med Anthropol. 2005 Jan-Mar;24(1):1-43. doi: 10.1080/01459740590905633.


Despite a cultural and biomedical consensus about the health benefits of physical activity, most adults do not exercise regularly and their activity tends to decline further in older age. This study reports on a group of older-age Italian bicyclists who maintain extraordinary activity levels. It explores the physical and mental health effects of intensive exercise in older people, the meanings and motivations associated with it, and the cultural and social features that support and promote bicycling in Italy. The findings suggest some public health implications for the prevention of chronic diseases caused by inactivity and excessive body weight.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / ethnology
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Bicycling / psychology*
  • Body Weight
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Italy / ethnology
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*