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Old 08-25-11, 09:25 AM   #1
borgagain
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What has Cycling done for your Health, Mental, Physical?

This is in response to a recent post highlighting a doctor's unscientific fantasy conclusion that "If you are over 50, think twice before you get on a bicycle...The benefits just don't outweigh the potential consequences."

I've been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and COPD.

I'm 54. I ride nearly every day, including a couple of centuries a year. I also ride through the Winter. I can state with absolute certainty that cycling has helped with every one of these things.

Since I started riding, the only malady I treat is the AS, with Enbrel and Methotrexate. I have no trouble breathing. The dizziness and brutal headaches I suffered, as part of the CF symptoms, are a thing of the past. The arthritis in my knees doesn't bother me anymore. My muscle tone is great and my energy level is much higher than it was when I wasn't riding. Friends tell me I look great and I feel happy most of the time, something that definitely wasn't the case prior to getting back on a bike.

I'm curious to know what cycling has done for you? At what age do you think the returns will diminish? Have you reached that age?
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Old 08-25-11, 09:48 AM   #2
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It's helped me lose 80 pounds over the last year, along with all the attendant health benefits that that brings.
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Old 08-25-11, 10:11 AM   #3
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My father passed away after a long comfortable life about five years ago. I remember contemplating my mortality, and I had reason for concern. While my Doctor always insisted that I was in excellent health, I knew I was more than 50 lbs over weight and generally inactive. I decided that I needed to lose weight, and needed to become active. I also decided to get started while I still had the option.

In the last five years Iíve dropped about 40 lbs and Iíve been able to keep it off. Iíve also developed ample stamina for demanding activities, including skiing with local friends in the Rockies. Itís help professionally, and Iím able to travel globally and endure long flights and 12 hour jet lag. These things were very challenging prior to regular activity and recreation. Life is more enjoyable now.

Changes in my mental health have also been substantial. I make time for myself much more than before. I also demand more of myself.

My Doctor thought my cycling was amusing, but not significant. I found a new doctor.

Last edited by Barrettscv; 08-25-11 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 08-25-11, 10:14 AM   #4
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Helped me get back in shape. The heat doesn't bother me as bad as it used to. I spent the summer riding with my daughter who is away in college most of the year. It was awesome spending time with her. May be the last time I ever get to do that. Thank you, bikes!
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Old 08-25-11, 10:36 AM   #5
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Cycling brought me back from life lived in a desk chair on the way down to true couch potato-hood to being in shape, healthy and happy.
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Old 08-25-11, 10:42 AM   #6
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It made me strong enough to withstand the very aggressive cancer treatment needed to beat advanced throat cancer.
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Old 08-25-11, 11:11 AM   #7
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I started riding while getting treatemnt for advanced colon cancer. I was in a 30% five-year survival rate category, which I passed last month. I can say without equivocation that cycling, good doctors, good medicine, and good luck saved my life.
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Old 08-25-11, 11:19 AM   #8
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Cycling (and a slightly better diet) has helped me lose 35+ pounds. In addition, it helps me mentally because I can get out and ride and leave the day's issues behind.
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Old 08-25-11, 11:31 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by borgagain View Post
...What has Cycling done for your Health, Mental, Physical? ...
I have a life-long problem with a depression worthy of a Dostoyevsky novel. “She” [depression] is my oldest and best friend and the one who has been my constant companion through thick and thin.

We have an arrangement, “She” and I. I accept her presence at all times and in all circumstances…there being no alternative. “She” agrees to live in the background…PROVIDING…

…I live a life of constant and intense physical activity…running, hiking, and cycling.

What has it done for me?

I get to live something like a normal life, a Blessing well worth the effort of getting out there and exerting effort. When I physically exert, “She” stays in her place.

In exchange, I get to sweat and see Earth in all Her moods…sunrise, storm, starlight, gloom, and all the rest…all in all, not a bad deal, eh?
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Old 08-25-11, 12:04 PM   #10
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"I’ve also developed ample stamina for demanding activities, including skiing with local friends in the Rockies. It’s help professionally, and I’m able to travel globally and endure long flights and 12 hour jet lag. These things were very challenging prior to regular activity and recreation. Life is more enjoyable now"

My experience exactly.

I recently heard an advertisement on the radio promoting a medical program to help you look and feel younger. It started out something like "You may come into our program at 40 years of age but you will leave feeling 10 years younger with more energy, stamina and a youthful smile on your face".

I thought. Why not just buy a bicycle??
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Old 08-25-11, 12:13 PM   #11
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Cycling helps me control my depression symptoms. Messing with a bike, riding a bike are all I need to lift the cloud of negative thoughts that are part of PTSD.

As long as a person stays within their personal limits I fail to see how cycling could ever harm someone.
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Old 08-25-11, 12:19 PM   #12
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For the person who's doctor told them not to ride I say find another doctor. As perfectly illustrated in the above posts exercise is ALWAYS a good thing! I can echo what the others have said. I've lost weight (40 lbs since last February). I feel vastly better! My mood swings have toned down. My outlook on life is better! If riding a bike at 51 is somehow a bad thing I say pooey on you! Some of my friends have done exactly that. They think my wife and I are nuts. It's interesting that the one's who make the most negative noise are the typically the one's who don't exercise at all. And it shows...

My wife and I will continue to ride until our bodies refuse to allow us to. If cycling is like crack then I am happily addicted!

So if you are reading these posts and wondering how to get back in shape do what the poster above said - Go buy a bike!!
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Old 08-25-11, 12:46 PM   #13
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It has done a lot for me physically and mentally. In the 4 years since I started riding again, I've lost weight and improved my fitness level a lot. We spent a couple of weeks this past summer camping in the eastern Sierras. Hiking for miles at 10,000' + elevation would not have been possible had cycling not improved my aerobic health as well as reducing my weight. And the mental health benefits are great as well (though some might argue that my wearing spandex points toward a mental defect).
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Old 08-25-11, 01:07 PM   #14
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I retired 3 years ago, and started riding my bent most every other day in the summer. I have lost 20 pounds, and in the summer my A1c goes down to 6.1 with my type II diabetes. My doctor approves of my cycling and say keep it up. BTW im 73.
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Old 08-25-11, 01:55 PM   #15
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Physically It probably saved my life. I took up mountain biking in 1990 and in 99 I was probably the fittest and leanest I had been for years. Didn't help with the Heart attack though but the Cardiologist said that I was lucky to survive as the Arteries were well and truly blocked. Got over that only to two years later have prostate cancer. With the wonders of modern medicine and surgery that was not a severe problem to overcome- except the mental aspect of it. By the middle of 2002 I was still riding but not a great deal and not with a great deal of effort. I realised I was getting lethargic and lazy and could have given up cycling BUT- decided to give it one more try. Kill or Cure and set a target. A hard target of the hardest ride I have ever done and I had previously done it 5 years before. Well I did the ride but the training and commitment to that right put me right mentally.
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Old 08-25-11, 01:59 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
Cycling brought me back from life lived in a desk chair on the way down to true couch potato-hood to being in shape, healthy and happy.
Yeah, that.

Much better fitness, 30 lbs lighter, lower blood pressure, lower resting pulse, etc etc.

But also, great happiness. I spent 25 years devoted to nothing but career and family and hey, I'm not knocking either, but I needed *something* else.

I found it.
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Old 08-25-11, 03:34 PM   #17
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The physical benefits from the 500-600 miles a month on average that I ride have been dramatic and are in the class as reported by the people who responded above but I do believe that the mental benefits have been more significant for me. Before I started riding two years ago, I was recently retired & relocated to an area where I knew few people, deeply depressed and, frankly, ambivalent at best as to whether I lived or died. My physical condition was at least as bad as my mental. Suffice it to say that the turnaround in my physical and mental state has been significant. Whenever circumstances restrict my riding for a significant number of days, I can feel the malaise creeping back. I don't have to burn the road to get the mental benefits. I had oral surgery earlier this week and, theoretically, I'm not supposed to be on a bike for another day or three. But I've been doing one hour rides while keeping my heart rate around 110-120 instead of my normal 130-145 bpm cruise range and I get back feeling great.
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Old 08-25-11, 03:54 PM   #18
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Can I just add that one of the (nice) challenges about all this is overcoming the urge to tell all kinds of people that they need to buy a bike and start riding? People I know who's health isn't so great or are suffering the effects of sedentary lifestyles. People I know who seem bored or in a rut. There's an inner voice I have that wants to evangelize for this great discovery I've made (and that so many of you have also made). But I'm old enough and wise enough to know that people don't want to hear it and, more to the point, won't listen. They need to make the discovery themselves. Besides, maybe for them, the discovery wouldn't be a bicycle but something else.

One of the pleasures of this forum is watching people go through this discovery process and seeing how their lives change as they continue to ride and post.
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Old 08-25-11, 05:12 PM   #19
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As I aged, I found myself drinking more alcaholic beverages when I came home from work. Not enough to be a real problem, but enough to make me say "hey, whats going going on here?" Cycling has changed that. Whatever the "high" that drinking was giving me, (endorphins maybe?) has now been replaced by the high that cycling is giving me.

So I'm all in for cycling!
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Old 08-25-11, 05:29 PM   #20
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Before I got back into cycling my weight was going up. I was 265 plus but when you are 265 you don't mention how much the plus is. Blood pressure was a bit high, cholesterol was high, blood sugar was moving up. Three and a half to four years later I am 210 and dropping. Blood pressure is good, cholesterol is the best it has ever been and blood sugar is normal. I tend to be in a better mood most of the time and I am more confident in my dealings with others. So yes, cycling has been, “berry berry good to me.”
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Old 08-25-11, 05:36 PM   #21
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As I approached 65 I began to think of how much longer I wanted to be active (read: go into the mountains and go deer hunting) and I decided that 20 more years wouldn't be unreasonable... IF I shaped up. 4 to 5 mile daily walks were helping, but not quickly enough. The bike give me that extra little edge, both mentally and physically.

2 years ago when I picked up my bike, used for $30, and started short rides it was a little scary. I didn't have the control I remembered from my youth and I fell a couple times. Made me think again. But I pushed on and now can go down ''the scary hill" at speed that I was really afraid of 2 years ago. So mentally it's maybe been just as important as physically.

And it helps me set goals: a 25 mile ride next month, 10 miles at 15 mph. (both close), and a metric century next year would be nice.
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Old 08-25-11, 05:51 PM   #22
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Can anyone play ?

I have been a cyclist for as long as I could walk and got my first trike and my participation has ebbed and flowed through my life although 5-6 years I ago I picked up the pace again, became car free, and have never looked back.

Have ridden road, especially in my younger days, mountain biked, rode ss / fg and cycle through all seasons and 3 years ago was riding at a 16,000 km a year pace and looking to enter master's racing.

And then, a disc exploded in my back and drove material into the nerve exits which has caused permanent nerve issues, left me in a state of chronic pain, and I have developed secondary MPS which can be excruciating.

Could not walk three years ago and my physical health and condition took a dive but slowly and surely I have worked to regain mobility and was able to ride before I could walk with any degree of surety or comfort.

Now I walk at least 3 miles a day when I am able and almost never miss my daily rides of 20km, I commute 100km to the frame shop on a frequent basis, and have knocked down numerous centuries and metrics.

Am on pace to ride 10,000 km this year and my doctor and specialists attribute my health and recovery to cyclng... I have had to adapt to not having full use of one leg and need those damned clipless pedals to keep my foot in place but now people are telling me that I am a hard man to keep up with on a bike.

Little old ladies with walkers can drop me easily but on a bike I can spin like a one legged gerbil on crack and don't worry about falling over, tripping, and most of the time the riding relieves a great deal of pain and lowers my need for mind numbing painkillers.

Cycling is also my business and being able to work in a limited fashion and as my health allows is good for my mental health and I hope to be able to do more if the current treatments is effective is reducing the pain levels.
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Old 08-25-11, 05:52 PM   #23
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I also met my new wife because of cycling and this has changed my life more than anything... my wedding gift to her is a custom built tandem so look forward to enjoying a whole new aspect of cycling.
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Old 08-25-11, 08:04 PM   #24
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I also met my new wife because of cycling and this has changed my life more than anything... my wedding gift to her is a custom built tandem so look forward to enjoying a whole new aspect of cycling.
That is the most wonderful and romantic wedding gift I have ever heard of! Best wishes
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Old 08-25-11, 08:15 PM   #25
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I have been smoke free for 9 months. Did not really see any major changes in BP or endurance.
I have been a walker and Hiker for years 2-4 miles everyday, kept me a stable weight and is great training with the dogs, but no grate bounds.

After about 2 months of serous road biking now I have seen my BP drop about 5 points on top and 10 on the bottom end. Probably down 1 maybe two sized in the jeans not sure yet. Endurance is picking up in all activities noticeable.
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