Cycling is a great activity to try after stroke. As well as having lots of physical, mental health and social benefits that can help your recovery, cycling can be adapted for almost every type of disability.
Whether you want to get some exercise, rebuild your confidence or just enjoy nice days out, there are inclusive cycling organisations around the UK helping stroke survivors of all abilities to enjoy the adventure and freedom of cycling.
Cycling instructor, Scott, recommends getting professional assistance, often free through the council, when returning to riding after stroke. 'Lots of people come to me because they're struggling with physical effects, such as their balance,' he says. ' We start off by going right back to the basics and building up from there, practising techniques and finding adaptations to help them progress.
'You can adapt your bike to make it work for you - from putting your brakes on your good side for one-handed braking, or changing pedals, chain and cranks to make cycling better for your gait and leg strength.
'For people with limited or no use of their arms or legs, limited stamina or balance issues, there are also tricycles, recumbent, hand pedal, tandem and electric bikes available that help to make cycling accessible to everyone.
'Local cycling groups and charities like Wheels for All can support you to try accessible cycling. All good bike shops will allow you to take a test ride and lots of parks offer recumbent and tricycle rental if you'd like to give it a go.'
Photo courtesy of The YOU Trust, who run the CWA Chapter in Portsmouth and Southsea: theyoutrust.org.uk/cycling-without-age
Cycling for everyone
International charity, Cycling Without Age (CWA), supports people who aren't able to cycle by themselves to enjoy the social and emotional benefits of a cycle ride.
Martin couldn't walk or stand independently after his stroke in 2020. After lockdown, he was keen to get out, so his Stroke Association Support Coordinator, Venita, put him in contact with his local CWA group in Portsmouth.
Their rides are on trishaws, which have their own pilot who pedals for you. 'Once on the trike you wear a seat belt and off you go!' says Martin. 'The seat is on the front of the trishaw so at first you feel vulnerable, but you soon get used to the freedom and people waving at you!'
'The pilots are all volunteers. We travel locally, which is lovely as I live on the coast.' The rides are free and give less mobile people the chance to explore where they live and have a chat with their pilot.
'I can't speak highly enough about Cycling Without Age, as without them I would rarely, if ever, get out. Do it if you get the chance. It will make a difference.'
Find out more
Photo courtesy of The YOU Trust, who run the CWA Chapter in Portsmouth and Southsea.
Stroke News magazine
This article is featured in the spring 2023 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.