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Has your health improved since you began cycling?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ash, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. Ash

    Ash Warming-Up

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    An article here from the Korean news service.

    Question here is: has cycling improved your health?

    I used to have very bad lower back pain before I bought the road bike. Since then, it has all but disappeared. In fact I would say it is totally gone!

    Anybody with similar experiences? And if you are a commuter, what effects has that had on your lifestyle and/ or health?

    here it is:

    Bike Commuters Say That They Anticipate Commuting



    OCTOBER 31, 2007 03:43


    Kim Myeong-uk, 37, bikes to work. Despite the blowing wind, he sweats. His office is 20 kilometers from his home. He began commuting on a bike three years ago because of his backache. He says, “You can keep your health as well as save the money for gas. Look at the cars crawling bumper to bumper over there. It took me 70 minutes by car to go to work, but now, on a bike, it takes less than 50 minutes.”

    With skyrocketing oil prices and the growing awareness of health, more people choose bicycles over cars. On Internet sites, there are more than 1,000 bicycle clubs.


    Goodbye Love Handles and Backache-


    Kim Jun-yeong, 36, began bike commuting four years ago. He commutes 40km on a bike daily, which takes about an hour. He says,” There is little difference in commuting time, but you cannot compare the fresh air you feel in the morning with anything else.”


    The other benefit he got was a nice physique. Since he began bike commuting, he has lost about one or two kilograms in body fat per month. He became densely muscled and his love handles disappeared. In the past, he was short of breath when he walked up and down stairs of subway stations. Now, he says that he does not feel as out-of-breath, as his capacity to breathe has increased.


    Choi Jeong-ho, 42, began biking to work a year ago. Since his workplace is close to his home, he intentionally goes the long way round. He said, “Until recently, I went on a diet avoiding high-protein and high-fat foods. Thanks to biking, I am happy that I do not have to get stressed because of food choices.”


    Song Sang-ho, chief doctor of Gangseo Jeil Hospital, said, “Since the saddle helps balancing one’s body weight, one’s waist muscles get stronger. Even an arthritis patient can enjoy biking. It also improves the circulatory system because blood vessels contract and release repeatedly while biking.”


    Preparations Before Riding a Bike -


    Whether it be an experienced biker or a first-timer, ankle and arm stretching is mandatory. If there is no time to do any stretching, 10 minutes pedaling at the speed of 100 pedal revolutions per minute at a low gear is an alternative way to warm up your body. The saddle height should be around your pelvis when you stand up. When your legs can stretch to the pedals, your knees do not get hurt. The height of the handlebars should be either parallel with, or one to five centimeters higher than the saddle. One’s body angle should be 45 degrees when you grip the handlebars.


    The ideal pedaling frequency is 90 cycles per minute. For beginners, 60-70 is fine. If your butt gets sore, adjust your saddle height or keep standing on the pedals every ten minutes. On bumpy roads, standing on the pedals is necessary to reduce shock. If your feet are incorrectly situated in the pedals, or you do not evenly distribute power through them, you may feel pain in your knees or ankles.



    For Your Safety-


    A helmet is critical for bikers. Head injuries account for 75 percent of all bicycle-related injuries in America. Inline skate helmets are fine as well. Goggles are needed to protect eyes from ultraviolet rays and dryness. Gloves and bicycle lights are also necessary. Additional headgear may be helpful to protect against smog and pollen.


    From the moment you get on a bike, you should think of it as a car. Under traffic regulations, it is regarded as a car. As a result, going in the wrong direction is dangerous. If a biker hits a pedestrian, the person on the bike will be held responsible for the accident. When crossing a crosswalk, get off the bike in order to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Oh Jong-ryeol, 31, the head of Internet club ‘Bike Commuters,’ said, “Bikers should pay attention while riding on a sidewalk or the terraces on the river because a bicycle accident is treated in just the same way as a car accident.”
     
  2. Phil

    Phil Maximum Pace

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    One thing I've noticed riding more is that my recovery time is way shorter than it used to be. I've usally been fairly active one way or another, but cycling really ramped up the cardio intensity. I still huff and puff up the hills like a steam engine in heat, but it only takes a minute or two to get back to normal, whereas a few years ago it would require the better part of an afternoon.

    For back stuff, my mild yet persistent upper back soreness was cured pretty handily by rowing machines and weights. For a general sense of fitness and health, it's hard to beat a combination of cycling and free weights. Not to mention the mood benefits--I just got back from a glorious dawn fall ride, the mist rising of the hills, the woods silent, the air clean as, er, clean autumn air. After that start to the day, it doesn't matter what kind of grief work'll throw at me :)
     
  3. Alcyone

    Alcyone Warming-Up

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    I fell sick the other day...it lasted just that...a day.

    I haven't been "truly sick" since I started seriously riding my bike.

    Even when my coworkers had succumbed to the infamous Japanese "kaze" (they all sounded like death) I felt wonderful (as much as you can at work!)

    Now that I'm back in the US, I still feel good, but it's not as fun to ride here as in Tokyo.
     
  4. Wolfman

    Wolfman Speeding Up

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    my health has improved and has broken my previous lethargy.

    However, I heard that cycling by itself doesn't build bone density - in which case you have to compliment with weights.

    Can't quite figure out how muscles are used in your back as that area is mostly stationary; i guess it could be an inner muscle thing.
     
  5. Philip

    Philip Speeding Up

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    Weight . . .

    Your skeleton requires weight bearing activities to stimulate growth in bone density. For example, running or weight lifting place weight on the skeleton stimulating growth in bone density to deal with the load. Cycling however is a non-weight bearing activity - your muscles take all the strain. Thus the skeleton is not placed under stress and bone density diminishes. Our bodies are very efficient - if you don't use it, you loose it! For example, your fitness. The only time this rule does not apply is FAT - if you don't use it, you get to carry it around with you :D

    Cheers,

    Philip
     
  6. WhiteGiant

    WhiteGiant Maximum Pace

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    So true!

    Thanks for that Philip!
    That's good information for everyone involved in the sport of cycling.

    Let me just add though, cycling as a "non-weight-bearing-sport" is not entirely true! - You only need to jump out of the saddle, push down on the pedals with every ounce of energy you have, and then on a serious climb, be doing push-ups with one arm while simultaneously doing pull-ups with the other...
    That's fairly "weight-bearing", if I'm not correct.

    Obviously, It doesn't compare to the constant "pounding" of running, but it is definitely faster, so the energy-output might not feel the same between the two disciplines.
    However, cycling at a high intensity (using arms, legs, lower back, etc.) cannot be called a "non-weight-bearing" exercise.
    Any other opinions? T
     
  7. trad

    trad Speeding Up

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    Calcium

    I have a cyclist friend in the states who entered an endurance run in Colorado. In the last 4 miles, he fell - shattering his shoulder blade, socket and ball. Docs argued that it was a combo of his sweating out minerals and cycling.

    Big believer of poping calcium a couple of times a day (cuz running hurts too much).
     
  8. TrufflesEater

    TrufflesEater Speeding Up

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    Not entirely true, but the stimulus to regenerate and repair the bone with new calcium
    is not nearly enough to offset the net calcium loss that occurs with age. "Weight-bearing"
    is a little misleading: it is the impact and vibration of running and jumping in sports
    like distance running, basketball, and soccer (aka football) that stimulates new calcium
    formation. Not so much a matter of opinion as the results of medical studies.

    David aka GuyWhoseOldDislocatedAnkleHurtsToday
     
  9. Wolfman

    Wolfman Speeding Up

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    With free weight use, are there any moves that you could classify as cycling specific? I basically do some squats and lunges as well as curls etc, but have been trying to diversify a bit by drawing on some of the examples here:

    http://www.menshealth.co.uk/index.php/cat/Exercise_descriptions

    Other than general fitness I'm not sure if any are specifically for cycling though.
     
  10. Edogawakikkoman

    Edogawakikkoman Maximum Pace

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    I do squats at cycling speed to get my legs twitching fast and bearing large loads at the same time... 100 reps X 1, 2 or 3 times a weak. With or without weights. Same with leg raises on my indoor weight machine.

    [​IMG]

    Minus the lateral pull down contraption.....
     
  11. Deej

    Deej Maximum Pace 3rd TCC KOM 2012

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    I don't know much about much, but...

    It makes sense that cyclists have lower bone density than serious runners or weightlifters, but how do we stack up against couch potatoes?

    In other words, it strikes me as somewhat alarmist to link loss of bone density with cycling. This seems to suggest that we're doing more damage to our bones than people who do not exercise at all.

    Is it that, as Trad referred to, cyclists sweat out important minerals and are therefore at higher risk? If this is true, a lot people who frequent saunas or do hot yoga are begging for catastrophic femur breakage.

    I would think that cyclists have higher bone density relative to the overall population.

    Am I missing something?
     
  12. Phil

    Phil Maximum Pace

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    Hey Deej, I'm guessing you saw that thread on BF about this very topic, comparing runners to cyclists? I don't think there was ever an answer to the question there, either, even though it is a good one. (For those who didn't see it, a researcher had published a piece in which she found that 60% or so of cyclists had lower than average bone density in the hips/pelvis, compared to only 20% of runners.)

    I wonder how cyclists stack up not just to couch potatos, but also rowers, swimmers, water poloists, cross-country skiiers, snowboarders and windsurfers, race car drivers, etc etc?
     
  13. Deej

    Deej Maximum Pace 3rd TCC KOM 2012

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    Busted! I knew my use of the expression "couch potatoes" would be a red flag. I hope this doesn't jeopardize my plans to become a Peloton Leader by the end of the year!

    Seriously, though, I did see that thread and shared the same sense of puzzlement as some of the other posters: why would cyclists have lower bone density than the average Joe?

    I did not read the bit about the study showing 60% of cyclists to have lower-than-average bone density in the hips/pelvis. If true, that is very surprising to me. I'll have to go back and read more details about the study, such as who the subjects were, what kind of cyclists, etc.

    In the meantime, I think I'll drink a tall glass of milk.
     
  14. TrufflesEater

    TrufflesEater Speeding Up

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    Yes, it would seem you are missing something. Much of the recent concern about
    bone density and cycling is the result of work by a young academic named Pam
    Hinton, who is also a very successful competitive cyclist. Here's a link if you want to
    learn more.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071016135440.htm

    Alarmist? To quote Ms. Hinton:

    "You would think that cyclists are very healthy because they spend all those hours
    training. In other aspects they are -- cardiovascular health and body composition.
    But in this one aspect, they're not doing so well. . . . Some of those with osteopenia
    [moderate bone density loss] were in their 20s and 30s and that was pretty
    alarming to me. I thought I'd just see it in guys who were older and had been
    riding for years."

    And, yes, calcium loss through seating does seem to part of the problem. Other
    studies of swimmers, for example, have shown they have average bone density.

    On comparing cyclists to couch potatoes, another researcher at San Diego State
    University, Jeanne Nichols, has this to say:

    "A recreational cyclist who rarely does other sports has the bone density of a
    nonathletic couch potato and is most likely headed for moderate to severe
    osteoporosis."

    David

    Btw, off-road cyclists fare somewhat better in these studies than roadies; evidently
    the greater impact and resistance of, say, mountain biking keeps their bone densities
    at near average levels.
     
  15. Deej

    Deej Maximum Pace 3rd TCC KOM 2012

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    Nice detective work, mangeur de truffes.

    Makes me feel better about hitting the weights. Still, despite all the facts and shattered pelvises littering the roadside, the linkage between cycling and osteoporosis still seems tenuous to me.

    Unlike Fox Mulder, I don't want to believe. :)

    D
     
  16. WhiteGiant

    WhiteGiant Maximum Pace

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    A word from the "uneducated"...

    I ain't no pro or anything (the last race results proved that), but I was pretty good at "physics" in high-school..
    I've already expressed my opinion about bicycling being "non-weight-bearing".... That's a crock!

    Maybe the whole thing about "calcium" levels should be re-worded as;
    "Weight-bearing" vs "Impact".

    How can the cycling term, "put the pedal down" mean "don't use any body weight?":confused:

    "Impact" exercise however, may have proven calcium/bone density results.

    However, if I'm worried about my calcium levels, I drink more milk.
    If I'm worried about iron, I "gets me sum o' that Popeye spinach"... or just have a steak.
    If I'm worried about potassium, I eat a banana!
    Sodium... Eat some shrimp!
    Sugar... A can of Coke will do the trick!

    Now, DON'T get me started on vitamins:cool:

    BTW, if you want impact training on the bike, I recommend the down-hill from Nokogiri-yama!
    T
     
  17. Ash

    Ash Warming-Up

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    Coke?:confused: This cannot be a post from the real travis...
     
  18. kiwisimon

    kiwisimon Maximum Pace

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    the idea of speed weight training has recently been misproven but it is still widely used in the mistaken belief that you can build fast or slow twitch muscle. you can find articles about this on the net but basically its time spent training putting each muscle under stress than the speed or weight of the weight. but the idea of unweighyed squats is a good joint friendlt one. more power to you I find it hard enough to get in my rides .last gym workout was oh about 5 years ago.

    "YellowGiant
    A word from the "uneducated"...
    However, if I'm worried about my calcium levels, I drink more milk.
    If I'm worried about iron, I "gets me sum o' that Popeye spinach"... or just have a steak.
    If I'm worried about potassium, I eat a banana!
    Sodium... Eat some shrimp!
    Sugar... A can of Coke will do the trick!

    Now, DON'T get me started on vitamins"

    how about smokes and ciggies?
     
  19. Ash

    Ash Warming-Up

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    Has anyone ever worn a mask?

    This might be a good topic for a different thread but seeing we are discussing health here might be also OK.

    Has anyone ever worn one of those gas mask things that I see mainly in pics from european riders? I touched on this topic today in my blog (see: Ash's Blog) and I was kind of wondering what effects good or otherwise apart from looking totally ridiculous these things would have. Seeing many of us spend everyday sucking in the particulate matter to the point where we might as well just put our mouths to the exhaust pipes and take a deep breath i would be interested to hear your carcinogen raddled opinions!:D
     
  20. Edogawakikkoman

    Edogawakikkoman Maximum Pace

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    That's another reason I stay away from busy roads. To my work is a direct 20km straight ride along route 16. I'd need a real gas mask to do that. It's much nicer to do the extra 5km and do a large semi circle taking in 12kms of the Edo river then all the back roads behind route 6 to Shin Kashiwa.... or if I have a lot more time on my hands I go anti-clockwise around the back of Tega numa and then up the Tone river turn left onto the Edo river....

    I can't say I've ever seen riders wearing masks.
    I'm tempted to buy one of those oxygen inhaler spray cans... a few of them before and after a race may be just what the doctor ordered....

    I just did 30kms on my indoor roller and noticed that doing 30kms on that seems to be more aerobically beneficial than doing the same on the road.... I could control the environment...heart rate, cadence, effort... had the 2003 TDF on and could pick up the pace for the sprint finishes on that.... I haven't done much in the way of indoor roller riding this year and I can definitely say my cadence average is slower and my speed has also dropped as a result.

    Certainly gives a new meaning to the term couch potato....the couch is there in case I pass out as something to land on...( I actually crashed 3 times tonight due to the chain coming off or the front wheel hitting the coffee table....)...

    One of my main goals with cycling was to lose weight. I lost fat and gained muscle but overall I haven't lost that gut . It will go down slowly and then will come back over a weekend of drunken debauchery...

    I think I need to throw in some cross training like running, swimming, tennis and golf.... but who has the time. Cycling certainly takes up a lot of time. :eek:uch:
     

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