Peter Berry and his bikes

How cycling can improve the wellbeing of people living with dementia

Peter, who is living with dementia, leads a healthy lifestyle and takes care of his well-being. With the help of his friend, Deb, Peter has penned his thoughts about his passion for cycling, and how keeping active is helping Peter live well with dementia.

When I cycle, I leave my dementia at home. I become who I was, not who I am.

I have always had a passion for cycling and now that I cannot work, I have more time to cycle. So, there you are - despite dementia stripping me of so many things, that’s me taking back from dementia. It’s not a one-way street after all.

Peter with a Penny Farthing bike

How cycling helps improve my wellbeing

I’m a great believer that we should take responsibility for our own health and well-being as much as we can.

I eat a good diet, I have recently become vegetarian, and I help my wife prepare our food from scratch. The irony is that post-diagnosis, I am healthier than I was pre-diagnosis, or at least I am from the eyebrows down! 

Cycling is my salvation. With every turn of the pedals, with every mile behind me, I feel stronger.

Cycling helps me regain control

When I cycle, I push my dementia away, into the shade where it stays until I get home. 

Peter with a Penny Farthing bike

Cycling is my medication; the fresh air is my anti-depressant and the sights and sounds of the countryside act as a balm to my hurt mind. (Actually, that last sentence has to go to my friend, Deb, who tells me she has plagiarised Shakespeare’s words. I suppose I have to believe her.)

But the truth is when I cycle, my spirits lift and the cloying thick cloud which was clogging my thoughts are shaken away.

When I cycle, I feel powerful, in control and strong. I get to see the countryside, and sometimes it’s like I am seeing it for the first time.

The world is a wonderful place when viewed through my cyclist’s eyes. Where there were dark and sinister shadows forming from the spectre of my dementia, there is now light and joy. 

I cycle because I love to cycle and it makes me Peter Berry, the cyclist, Peter Berry, the man, not Peter Berry, living with early-onset dementia.

Keeping active and involved

Activities can help you stay independent and provide a great sense of enjoyment. They can also keep you in touch with other people and can improve your quality of life.

Learn more


There are also many ways in to cycling (and walking) that need to be placed in the limelight In Glasgow I was using my bus pass (Saltire Card in Scotland) to hire the public bike hire cycles (and I have also enabled it to hire any of the thousands of car club cars across the UK, and in Glasgow I get 50% discount on local trains and the Subway (Underground - opened 1896) With public bike hire now in many cities (Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Cardiff, Bournemouth, Milton Keynes, Leicester, Inverness, Fort William, Dundee ....) we have a brilliant population health deliverable asset Older and disabled people with their bus passes, can hire a fully serviced (ie safe to ride) cycle - many with electric assist - to make local trips, and access bus, coach & train services. Every hire is also logged, and so some population health measurement can also be delivered (with users consent) - see how often a person cycles, and then check their basic details (Pulse, Breathing rates, BP, weight etc) - I know from a few 'incidents' that when I've rolled in for patching up, the doctors ask how my pulse, breathing (and recovery rate) sits below 60, and my blood pressure so low, something that all building exercise into their daily lives seem to show There are many community cycle centres - with the excellent US handbook (1994) 'Tools For Life' (Karen Overton & George Babiak) which describes how to set up Youth Bike Education centres and engage those idle hands before the Devil finds work for them - working creatively these groups also bridge the age gap - I recall having a 102 year old founder (& his 90 year old pal) of a local cycling group with a crowd of primary school kids hanging on his every word at an event we had to celebrate the completion of a cycle route I tweet as BCCletts if anyone wants to contact H - (as I've been known since 1971)

Does Peter cycle on his own? My partner lost his licence because of dementia and now wants a bike to run his errands I’m afraid he’ll drive into traffic. I still work and can’t be with him

Hi Rachel,

You may be interested to learn about Peter's website (, Facebook Page (, Twitter ( and Instagram ( accounts.

There's also a book called Slow Puncture that you may be interested in:

In the meantime, you might benefit from speaking with a Dementia Adviser about your concerns for your partner - they will listen to your situation and provide information, advice and support. Call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456. More details about the support line (including opening hours) and other support services are available here:

You may also benefit from joining our online community, Talking Point. Here, carers and other people affected by dementia share their experiences, and offer advice and support to those in similar situations. You can browse the conversations within the community or sign up for free:

We hope this helps for now.

Alzheimer's Society website team

Dementia is very scary

How is Peter doing these days? Keeping strong and present I hope. My dad was called Peter and he lost his battle with dementia in 2017.

Hi Catherine - sorry for the delay in replying - I am answering on peter's behalf - he is fine, doing lots of cycling and keeping as healthy as possible. I am assuming you know about the book, Slow Puncture, which will be published on Sept 28th this year: a helpful link below for you if you wish to pre-order!!

Forging ahead into the light , fresh air is so good for us and the wind in your face must really make you feel so alive Brilliant Post Peter #rememberwhenltd love the penny farthing bike .. don’t think I could ride one though .

We are all so very proud of you

I used to be a distance runner( did a few marathons) but now am a walker. I walk for an hour or so every day and I find it helps with my memory loss! I got turned around one day on a long run and had to ask for directions, whuich was very humbling and scary!

Thank you for your words of inspiration Peter. I wish you many more happy miles cycling.

I have been for a walk this afternoon, about 2.6 miles. Normally, like Peter, I would cycle, and go further, but only had a hour available. Living now in a bungalow in retirement I am well aware that I'm not getting quite as much exercise as when I was cycling to and climbing stairs at work, and at home. I hope my walk today will keep my brain, and muscles, active for that bit longer.

Your are an inspiration to others living with dementia, showing what can be achieved with determination and support from family and friends

Well done to Peter and his cycling companions for all he does and shares ,helping people with Dementia.