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Seniors go head-to-head in cycling challenge
Covenant pic 2
Roy Fowler navigates the CyberCycles scenery as Jeannine Beltz warms up for her turn on the stationary bike. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal

Seniors at Covenant Village of Turlock were off to the races Monday as the retirement community kicked off the Tour de CRC, a five-day CyberCycle challenge meant to promote healthy competition and physical well-being.

Through May 27, the Covenant Village CyclePaths will compete against their sister senior living community, The Samarkand in Santa Barbara. The Samarkand’s team, the Amazing CyberSams, and the CyclePaths will face off over the course of five days to see which group can pedal the most miles on their CyberCycles.

Covenant Village received its first CyberCycle in March, ushering in a new, stimulating form of exercise for its residents. Much like any other stationary bike, the CyberCycle allows the rider to pedal in place. But, what sets the piece of equipment apart from other bikes are the virtual environments that the rider can navigate. Covenant Villagers not only are able to exercise their bodies while riding, but their minds as well thanks to the motivating and interactive scenery that they can steer through.

“It makes riding fun,” said Director of Residents Services Adele Rosas. “The two greatest fears of this population are falling down and losing their memory, so this helps them both think more clearly and exercise their leg muscles.”

Over 30 residents signed up to ride in the Tour de CRC, with the oldest rider aged 90 years and the youngest aged 72. Team members sign up for specific shifts to ride and log in to record their miles using personal identification numbers via the CyberCycle website. A webcam connected to The Samarkand and displayed on a projector in the Covenant Village Fitness Center allowed both teams to keep an eye on their competition during the race’s kick off. The Fitness Center is open 24 hours a day, giving the CyclePaths plenty of time to rack up as many miles as they can.

“It’s just a fun time to compete with another village and get acquainted with them,” said CyclePath team member Jim Jessup. “It’s a team unit.”

Recent studies have shown that combining physical exercise with computer-simulated environments and interactive video game features can yield greater cognitive benefits than traditional exercise alone for older adults, according to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. It was reported that older adults who exercised regularly with the CyberCycle experienced a 23 percent reduction in progression to mild cognitive impairment, compared to traditional exercisers.

“It gets me up in the morning,” said CyclePath team member John Schneider. “We compete against the other team and ourselves. It’s nice because you don’t have to watch the news while you ride — you can watch the scenery.”

The competition coincides with National Senior Health and Fitness Day today and also runs through National Bike Month, which takes place in May. The Covenant Village plans to hold another CyberCycle competition in June.