This week a forever young cardiologist from Colorado details all the great benefits of cycling calling it his "fountain of youth." Dr. Jim Sbarbaro and his wife Debbie have been on twelve Ciclismo Classico tours. They shared an engaging collection of memories and some great insights on the medically proven benefits of cycling!
Dr. Jim says: “There are very few forms of exercise other than cycling which people in our age group can perform that have such great benefits.”
When I interviewed Jim, the conversation was filled with his passion and endless stories about his love affair with Italy. A second generation Italian (whose parents came from Parma and Santa Margherita Ligure), Jim has travelled to Italy at least 25 times over the years.
Instead of recounting our conversation, you can read the story in Jim's own words below:
I started cycling in 1994 after a ruptured disc ended my running career. Debbie joined me in 1998. I am 70 years old and Debbie 66. We live in Pueblo, Colorado on the front range (east of the Rocky Mountains), 100 miles south of Denver. I am a retired cardiologist, and Debbie a retired registered nurse. We have six kids and 10 grandkids. Truly, we have been fortunate and lead a charmed life.
Cycling is indeed our fountain of youth. The health benefits for all people, especially seniors, are significant. It is a low impact exercise, a good muscle workout, and a time efficient fun way to get fit. Specific health benefits include increased cardiovascular fitness and a decreased risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and heart attack. Cycling increases muscle strength and flexibility, improves joint mobility, decreases stress levels, improves posture and coordination, decreases body fat levels, and reduces anxiety and depression. Studies have also suggested a reduced risk of cancer and diabetes. While cycling does not specifically increase bone density because it is not weight bearing, it is an ideal form of exercise If you have osteoarthritis, because it is low impact and places little stress on joints.
"Cycling is indeed our fountain of youth"
Some of our best epic Ciclismo moments include the ferry ride from Venice to Chioggia and viewing the mosaics in Ravenna in 2003, our attendance at La Festa dei Ceri in Gubbio this past May, cycling over the great passes of northern Italy on the Verona to Salzburg tour, seeing the birthplace of Fausto Coppi in Piedmont, visiting the Trulli houses in Alberobello and staying in a cave hotel in Matera on the Bike Across Southern Italy tour in 2010, participating in the Gran Fondo of Reggio Emilia with Marcello Bonini in 2016, and having our laundry cleaned and dried in an ultramodern laundromat in Todi midway through this May's Bike Across Italy.
Marvelous Mallorca was a magical tour--great weather, scenery, and cycling. Lots of cyclists riding, including some pros! Spectacular views of the ocean on many rides, beautiful hotels, and lots of fresh seafood. We had the best branzino we have ever tasted. Guests should spend a day in Palma di Mallorca (the town you fly into to start the tour): great culture, architecture, and food. We took an afternoon tour with a local guide on city bikes, and got to see the whole town.
As I've said above, I have overcome a ruptured disc and Debbie a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, and cycling has helped us with both ailments. Riding our bikes is our favorite form of exercise. We ride because we enjoy it, and because it is good for us. On Ciclismo tours we ride to eat, drink, and enjoy Italian culture, experiences which our guides have always provided.
“The Ciclismo Classico guides and the tour will turn back the hands of time for you.”
There are very few forms of exercise other than cycling which people in our age group can perform that have such great benefits. Ciclismo tours always make us feel young, because the guides make all clients an integral part of the tour, no matter their age or level of cycling performance. Never avoid a Ciclismo tour because you are not as young as you used to be, as the guides and the tour will in reality turn back the hands of time for you. We ride mountain bikes on occasion, but ride 20 miles or so on the road every day. Next year we hope to join Henrick Murphy on the Ciclismo Classico Ireland’s West Coast tour. Being able to ride with your significant other is indeed an extra benefit. It strengthens our relationship, and we have made many, many new friends on our twelve Ciclismo tours."
Photo credits: Jim and Deb Sbarbaro
Thank you for reading through our current Forever Young series!
Inspired by Mallorca? Visit one of our other fabulous island tours!
Elba (itinerary coming soon): Elba was the first tour that Ciclismo offered and we're bringing it back for our 30th Anniversary
Mediterranean Island Hopping: Exotic Sardinia and Corsica are showcased in this ultimate European getaway
Savor Sardinia: Discover Italy's "continent on an island" on this captivating tour
La Bella Sicilia: An unforgettable travel experience to the Mediterranean's largest island
Gran Canaria: Explore a Spanish island and year-round cycling oasis