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Old 01-10-13, 01:16 AM   #1
B. Carfree
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Lucky us, at least according to latest study

The NYTimes has a little piece on how Americans under the age of 50, those not so fortunate as to truly "belong" in this forum (but always welcome as long as they stay off the lawn), are dying at much higher rates than their peers in other developed countries. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/he...t-says.html?hp

While the article focuses on several hypotheses to explain this problem by noting our uniquely fractured health care delivery system and penchant for gun violence, I have my own pet hypothesis. Mine at least has the advantage that I first proposed it before the data started coming in, so it is a model that has had some predictive value. Of course, that may be its only value. Oh, it has one more thing going for it; it makes this news article about the premature deaths of the "50 -" crowd relevant to a cycling forum.

Here it is: My spouse and I call the folks born between 1965 and 1985 the "lost generation" because they were too young for the second bike boom in America that took place in the 1960s and '70s, and have largely missed the third boom that has occurred during the past decade, although their kids haven't. As a result, they are fatter and more addicted to car use for their every transportation desire and they've never seen a world that was otherwise. Now, we all know that riding a bike helps reduce weight, fights diabetes, lowers blood pressure and likely reduces coronary artery disease. Well, those are exactly the diseases that are killing our under-fifties.

I'll try to bear in mind their shorter life expectancies when I am "wishing them well" just after one of these short-lifers tries to shorten my life with his/her car. Of course they're in a hurry; they have so few years to live.
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Old 01-10-13, 02:40 AM   #2
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Thanks for bringing this up... It IS very relevant to this forum...

But contrary to what the article says:
“Something fundamental is going wrong,” ... “This is not the product of a particular administration or political party. Something at the core is causing the U.S. to slip behind these other high-income countries. And it’s getting worse.”

I think this is very much a political issue -- because government sets the tone for things that determine whether we live or die. A good example is speed limits...

So, I think this does deserve a good discussion in the forum -- but I hope it stays away from the vindictive, angry politics that characterizes our country these days...

That being said: I think that more pressure is on the under 50 crowd to make money for themselves than to make good health for themselves. When I was growing up in the 60's the country actually had a fitness goal for young people because they realized the country was headed in the wrong direction. But, for the last 20-25 years or so, I don't hear much about that... Some people are health conscious -- but most are not.
... I know I certainly was not: 60-70 work weeks plus work at home focused my life around my job. Now I am trying to make up for what those years of non-use abuse did to my body and indirectly to my brain.
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Old 01-10-13, 06:09 AM   #3
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Be careful. I would bet if you charted a graph on family break ups and single parent families with mortality rates, you'd see a direct parallel. And it's really not fair to say that this is not a political issue and then immediately use stuff like this for calls for immediate and massive governmental intervention, which is by definition highly political. Just a thought.
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Old 01-10-13, 08:13 AM   #4
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Correlation is not causation. Reduced biking correlates. Reducing fat in our diet correlates. You need some double blinded experiments here. Random sample, half strapped to a bike for an hour a day, half not. Something like that.
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Old 01-10-13, 08:16 AM   #5
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Correlation is not causation. Reduced biking correlates. Reducing fat in our diet correlates. You need some double blinded experiments here. Random sample, half strapped to a bike for an hour a day, half not. Something like that.
Not according to Gary Taubes, Why we get fat. Been minimal carb high everything else for a week. I'm either in great shape or nearing a massive coronary.

I hope I didn't just jinx mysel
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Old 01-10-13, 08:50 AM   #6
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I think a lot of it is directly related to activity, when I was a kid (late boomer), we walked to school, when we got older, we either walked or rode bikes to school, we spent the summer outside, running around, and if you were not on your bike, it was nearby, because that is how you got around. You knew when the sun was late in the sky, to make sure you were within earshot of home, because mom would go out on the porch and call you, and if you didn't want to catch h**l you made sure you were close enough to hear. Although if you heard someone elses mom call them, you knew to head home anyway.

Then the media caught onto the idea of the child molester, not that, that was a new thing, we knew to stay out of arms reach of strangers. I knew that if someone wanted directions, to give them directions, from the safety of the sidewalk, or to tell them we didn't know. Then divorce became a lot easier to obtain and parents fought over kids in custody disputes, and there were more child abductions, but the increase was often parents that lost such disputes, then the media got ahold of it, and made every incident a story with a months long shelf life. This scared parents spitless, so instead of walking or biking to school, parents drove their children to school, kids had to stay in the yard, then along came video game consoles, and personal computers, and kids simply stopped going outside, because there was nothing to do, outside. That group that followed us, went from becoming children who never played outside, to adults that never went outside, without getting into the car. Those people are now in their late 30's & 40's, they are over weight, because they don't exercise and they eat crap, and are heading into the cardiac zone, and they are dropping like flies.

The issues are more dire in the US then elsewhere, because of health care costs, in countries with government managed basic health insurance, people are more likely to see a doctor on a regular basis, then in a country where, your afraid to see a doctor, not because your afraid the doctor will find something, but you will not be able to afford it, if they do.
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Old 01-10-13, 08:53 AM   #7
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Be careful. I would bet if you charted a graph on family break ups and single parent families with mortality rates, you'd see a direct parallel. And it's really not fair to say that this is not a political issue and then immediately use stuff like this for calls for immediate and massive governmental intervention, which is by definition highly political. Just a thought.
Yup.

The rise of daily fast food consumption ain't helping matters either.
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Old 01-10-13, 09:02 AM   #8
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Be careful. I would bet if you charted a graph on family break ups and single parent families with mortality rates, you'd see a direct parallel. And it's really not fair to say that this is not a political issue and then immediately use stuff like this for calls for immediate and massive governmental intervention, which is by definition highly political. Just a thought.
Sorry Doodle but I think you misrepresented what I said:
" it's really not fair to say that this is not a political issue and then immediately use stuff like this for calls for immediate and massive governmental intervention"

I pointed out that government policies and regulations impact health and well being -- and sited speed limits as an example that saves lives.

I did not call for lowering the speed limit or for any other government action -- including " immediate and massive governmental intervention" as you phrased it. But I did point out that government policies and laws do impact the health and well being of people -- either positively or negatively.

And I also cautioned against politicizing this thread with knee jerk retorts and reactions... Try to restrain yourself.
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Old 01-10-13, 09:37 AM   #9
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Wow, that is a scary article! It really doesn't align with my experiences, however.

My mother died from cancer when she was 29, a friend of mine died from cancer at 28 but (thankfully!) I haven't lost any friends or relatives to fire-arms, car or motorcycle accidents, or drug use issues . . . kind of odd since those are the big numbers in the article.

Happy to be the exception in this case!

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Old 01-10-13, 09:54 AM   #10
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Sorry Doodle but I think you misrepresented what I said:
" it's really not fair to say that this is not a political issue and then immediately use stuff like this for calls for immediate and massive governmental intervention"

I pointed out that government policies and regulations impact health and well being -- and sited speed limits as an example that saves lives.

I did not call for lowering the speed limit or for any other government action -- including " immediate and massive governmental intervention" as you phrased it. But I did point out that government policies and laws do impact the health and well being of people -- either positively or negatively.

And I also cautioned against politicizing this thread with knee jerk retorts and reactions... Try to restrain yourself.
I wasn't responding to you and don't really care what you have to say about it.
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Old 01-10-13, 10:39 AM   #11
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I wasn't responding to you and don't really care what you have to say about it.
Sorry for assuming that your darts were aimed at me. But since mine was the only response in the thread -- and your post immediately followed it, that seemed like a reasonable assumption.
... Actually, it still does.

Perhaps you should explain who or what you were attacking. So far, I have not seen anything in this thread -- including the original article -- advocating the "immediate and massive governmental intervention" that you were complaining about.
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Old 01-10-13, 11:29 AM   #12
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Ah, another attempt at a subject I broached sometime ago. Hope this one has less barb swapping than that one.

Bottom line in all these discussions are the words "self responsibility". The way to stay fit and healthy is not a secret. Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, know and act on that "secret" each an every day.

However, given governmental bias toward the folks who look on people as profit sources for their concoctions that masqurade as nutritious food it is more difficult than it needs to be to have a healthy lifestyle. From an industrial and governmental perspective being free of biological contanminants equates to "good food". Add to that the refrains to "leave it to the government professionals" and "keep on with your shopping lives, we'll take care of you" and people are at best being left on their own.

We have a national epidemic that is rapidly spreading through the world. To me cycling, whether indoor or out, can be a key part of stopping that process. Not only physically, but by developing social relationships that reinforce healthy behaviour.
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Old 01-10-13, 11:55 AM   #13
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We do realize that according to the world fact book we ae only talking about a life expectancy difference between the US and places like the Netherlands and Denmark of 1 to 2 years? As I understand it both Denmark and the Netherlands are big bicycle Meccas. Doesn't seem like worth moving to freeze in the winter for one year. Far better to be filthy ritch and live in Monico and gain 10 years. Or become a commie and get an extra 6 years by moving to Macau. Still ranking 33 out of 190 countries with all of our other problems doesn't seem all that bad. Except for the people in this forum who have passed their expiration date according to their countries predicted life expectancy. They must be getting ready to mold.
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Old 01-10-13, 12:12 PM   #14
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^ I dunno about you, but I think my warranty has run out.
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Old 01-10-13, 12:16 PM   #15
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Fascinating article. I think B Carfree, GBMac, and Woogster are all proposing similar and mostly reasonable explanations. Clearly there has been someting going on in the culture to encourage poor choices in activity and nutrition etc. in younger cohorts. Hard to view it all as a sudden appearance of millions of people just making bad decisions all on their own.

I did not think GBMac was saying this is not political. Trying hard not to use the word "government" in my post, as that would almost certainly unleash the hounds of heck and doom the thread to banishment to P&R.
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Old 01-10-13, 12:42 PM   #16
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I dunno. I'd like to see the study itself, frankly. There are places where the author's take on it smacks of agendizing. To wit:

Quote:
Car accidents, gun violence and drug overdoses were major contributors to years of life lost by Americans before age 50.

The rate of firearm homicides was 20 times higher in the United States than in the other countries, according to the report, which cited a 2011 study of 23 countries. And though suicide rates were lower in the United States, firearm suicide rates were six times higher.

Sixty-nine percent of all American homicide deaths in 2007 involved firearms, compared with an average of 26 percent in other countries, the study said.
Car accidents: This is a surprise? I've spent time in some other countries, and many of them are far less car dependent than we are. I'd be shocked if we didn't have more deaths from car accidents.

Gun Violence: As opposed to other violence? Dead is dead, regardless of how it was done. Of course, many of those countries have fewer deaths from guns ... their laws are far more restrictive regarding gun ownership. The article seems to begrudgingly admit our suicide rates are lower, but goes on to say our firearm suicide rates are six times higher. Why the focus on guns?

Then this:

Quote:
The United States is a bigger, more heterogeneous society with greater levels of economic inequality, and comparing its health outcomes to those in countries like Sweden or France may seem lopsided. But the panelists point out that this country spends more on health care than any other in the survey. And as recently as the 1950s, Americans scored better in life expectancy and disease than many of the other countries in the current study.
If car accidents, gun violence and drug overdoses were major contributors, why would I expect $ spent on health care to make any difference?
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Old 01-10-13, 12:50 PM   #17
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^ I dunno about you, but I think my warranty has run out.
Yes I may be as well. This year I became one of the oldest males in my family in several generations, four or five I believe. It may be personal choices in my life and I believe cycling has added to my health. But I don't believe government intervention or direction had anything to do with it. Genetically my father, grandfather and great grandfather expired before they reached 65. My grandfather was one of the first to drive a car in those four generations and he was active and worked till one morning when his heart just gave up. No fast food, not a drinker and didn't have a high pressure job.

However there is a personal responsibility many seem to overlook. There is a generation younger than the ones that post in this forum that see drugs as recreational, drinking as far more than social, family relationships as unnecessary, risky sexual habits as permissable and don't expect to have to pay the price for these beliefs. There is a simple formula that still works, Action reaction, cause and effect. The generation and the government we are talking about shouldn't forget that. Like the kind that couldn't control the waves government can't control bad habits.
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Old 01-10-13, 01:05 PM   #18
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However there is a personal responsibility many seem to overlook. There is a generation younger than the ones that post in this forum that see drugs as recreational, drinking as far more than social, family relationships as unnecessary, risky sexual habits as permissable and don't expect to have to pay the price for these beliefs. There is a simple formula that still works, Action reaction, cause and effect. The generation and the government we are talking about shouldn't forget that. Like the kind that couldn't control the waves government can't control bad habits.
Yup. Mother nature doesn't suffer fools.

I find the subject fascinating. We ALL have habits and things we do that we know are self-destructive to some extent, but we do them anyway.

There are members of my family that think my choice to ride 8,000 miles a year represents a foolish risk. I see it instead as a choice between a high probability of a gradual decline in health balanced against the small but not insignificant probability of a sudden and violent death (along with the healthy dose of fun, of course).

I've decided to take my chances. I guess that's the point ... we makes our choices and live with them.
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Old 01-10-13, 01:26 PM   #19
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One factor that seldom gets discussed is that Americans(USA Americans) have self-selected historically for more assertion/aggression. People left European and other stratified cultures to go to the US where opportunities were greater. That continues today. These people have self-selected for higher levels of behavior that results in more accidental injuries and death while at the same time providing more opportunity for personal success. It follows then that comparisons to other countries where people were not so adventurous have to be done with a great deal of care.
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Old 01-10-13, 01:40 PM   #20
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I think a lot of it is directly related to activity, when I was a kid (late boomer), we walked to school, when we got older, we either walked or rode bikes to school, we spent the summer outside, running around, and if you were not on your bike, it was nearby, because that is how you got around. You knew when the sun was late in the sky, to make sure you were within earshot of home, because mom would go out on the porch and call you, and if you didn't want to catch h**l you made sure you were close enough to hear. Although if you heard someone elses mom call them, you knew to head home anyway.

Then the media caught onto the idea of the child molester, not that, that was a new thing, we knew to stay out of arms reach of strangers. I knew that if someone wanted directions, to give them directions, from the safety of the sidewalk, or to tell them we didn't know. Then divorce became a lot easier to obtain and parents fought over kids in custody disputes, and there were more child abductions, but the increase was often parents that lost such disputes, then the media got ahold of it, and made every incident a story with a months long shelf life. This scared parents spitless, so instead of walking or biking to school, parents drove their children to school, kids had to stay in the yard, then along came video game consoles, and personal computers, and kids simply stopped going outside, because there was nothing to do, outside. That group that followed us, went from becoming children who never played outside, to adults that never went outside, without getting into the car. Those people are now in their late 30's & 40's, they are over weight, because they don't exercise and they eat crap, and are heading into the cardiac zone, and they are dropping like flies.

The issues are more dire in the US then elsewhere, because of health care costs, in countries with government managed basic health insurance, people are more likely to see a doctor on a regular basis, then in a country where, your afraid to see a doctor, not because your afraid the doctor will find something, but you will not be able to afford it, if they do.
I'm pretty much in total agreement with this explanation. It fits my experience and my observations. Exercise and the bias towards or against it is most of the issue
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Old 01-10-13, 02:55 PM   #21
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One factor that seldom gets discussed is that Americans(USA Americans) have self-selected historically for more assertion/aggression. People left European and other stratified cultures to go to the US where opportunities were greater. That continues today. These people have self-selected for higher levels of behavior that results in more accidental injuries and death while at the same time providing more opportunity for personal success. It follows then that comparisons to other countries where people were not so adventurous have to be done with a great deal of care.
Oh, good lord.
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Old 01-10-13, 03:31 PM   #22
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I think a lot of it is directly related to activity, when I was a kid (late boomer), we walked to school, when we got older, we either walked or rode bikes to school, we spent the summer outside, running around, and if you were not on your bike, it was nearby, because that is how you got around. You knew when the sun was late in the sky, to make sure you were within earshot of home, because mom would go out on the porch and call you, and if you didn't want to catch h**l you made sure you were close enough to hear. Although if you heard someone elses mom call them, you knew to head home anyway.

Then the media caught onto the idea of the child molester, not that, that was a new thing, we knew to stay out of arms reach of strangers. I knew that if someone wanted directions, to give them directions, from the safety of the sidewalk, or to tell them we didn't know. Then divorce became a lot easier to obtain and parents fought over kids in custody disputes, and there were more child abductions, but the increase was often parents that lost such disputes, then the media got ahold of it, and made every incident a story with a months long shelf life. This scared parents spitless, so instead of walking or biking to school, parents drove their children to school, kids had to stay in the yard, then along came video game consoles, and personal computers, and kids simply stopped going outside, because there was nothing to do, outside. That group that followed us, went from becoming children who never played outside, to adults that never went outside, without getting into the car. Those people are now in their late 30's & 40's, they are over weight, because they don't exercise and they eat crap, and are heading into the cardiac zone, and they are dropping like flies.

The issues are more dire in the US then elsewhere, because of health care costs, in countries with government managed basic health insurance, people are more likely to see a doctor on a regular basis, then in a country where, your afraid to see a doctor, not because your afraid the doctor will find something, but you will not be able to afford it, if they do.

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I'm pretty much in total agreement with this explanation. It fits my experience and my observations. Exercise and the bias towards or against it is most of the issue
And I agree as well.

I would add that increasingly, medical science is becoming aware of the positive impact that exercise (especially aerobic exercise) has on mental health and well being -- for kids of ALL ages... (particularly for things such as anxiety, depression and dementia)

As for getting exercise: Heck, people don't even cut their own grass anymore or clean their houses -- look at the proliferation of landscapers and maid services

And, today, in addition to NOT getting out and getting some exercise -- they instead spend their time playing a video game about killing people. The video games may or may not directly promote violence. But they sure do promote an aggressive way of viewing the world.

So, in addition to losing the mental health benefits of aerobic exercise, they fill their minds with aggression. It's a double wammy... And, IMHO, leads to increases in violence -- whether by gun or whatever...

Besides -- how many young persons do you know who could cycle for 50 miles and have enough energy left over to kill somebody?
... I don't I think know even one ...
........... Yes, I know that last was probably a stupid thing to say -- but I suspect there is an element of truth in it,

Last edited by GeorgeBMac; 01-10-13 at 05:06 PM. Reason: clarify 'mental health effects'
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Old 01-10-13, 05:04 PM   #23
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And I agree as well.

I would add that increasingly, medical science is becoming aware of the positive impact that exercise (especially aerobic exercise) has on mental health and well being -- for kids of ALL ages...

As for getting exercise: Heck, people don't even cut their own grass anymore or clean their houses -- look at the proliferation of landscapers and maid services

And, today, in addition to NOT getting out and getting some exercise -- they instead spend their time playing a video game about killing people. The video games may or may not directly promote violence. But they sure do promote an aggressive way of viewing the world.

So, in addition to losing the mental health benefits of aerobic exercise, they fill their minds with aggression. It's a double wammy... And, IMHO, leads to increases in violence -- whether by gun or whatever...

Besides -- how many young persons do you know who could cycle for 50 miles and have enough energy left over to kill somebody?
... I don't I think know even one ...
........... Yes, I know that last was probably a stupid thing to say -- but I suspect there is an element of truth in it,
When I was a teenager, the best day of the winter, was the "snow day", because it meant the school was closed as people dug out, a young man wanting a nice pile of spending money, needed only to grab the snow shovel, and after doing his own driveway, put the shovel on his shoulder and go for a walk. There would be people all over town willing to invest some cash in getting dug out. If you did it on a regular basis, you could end up with 10-15 houses where you knew there was a $5 bill with your name on it. I had about three years I did yard maintenance, I would cut grass in the summer and shovel snow in the winter. I would keep enough money back that I could get what I wanted, invested in a new bicycle at one point. I "retired" from yard maintenance, after high school, with enough money to pay for the first year of college.

In 1999 we had a big storm, where I lived, and I would see teens wandering around, and I thought, man, when I was that age, I would have been out there with the shovel, making a bucket full of cash....
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Old 01-10-13, 06:23 PM   #24
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Yup. Mother nature doesn't suffer fools.

I find the subject fascinating. We ALL have habits and things we do that we know are self-destructive to some extent, but we do them anyway.

There are members of my family that think my choice to ride 8,000 miles a year represents a foolish risk. I see it instead as a choice between a high probability of a gradual decline in health balanced against the small but not insignificant probability of a sudden and violent death (along with the healthy dose of fun, of course).

I've decided to take my chances. I guess that's the point ... we makes our choices and live with them.
Have you read Joe Friel's Book," Cycling past 50?" He discusses much of this very issue. He has graphs and charts in the first part of the book showing the aging process between competitive and post competitive men and women and between active and sedentary men and women and surprise, surprise the sedentary people had higher body mass, higher blood pressure and a high resting heart rate. I have been in both groups over the years. I worked and commuted by bicycle for ten years but as I got more successful in my job and started to raise a family I switched to motorcycles and finally small compact cars. Time became a problem because of work, after school programs and community commitments and I believe that has a lot to do with the under 50s sedentary lifestyle, on top of the other things I listed. But still considering how few Americans cycle commute compared to the Netherlands and Denmark a spread of 1 to 2 years between them and the US seems pretty small. After all doesn't Denmark have a cycle commute rate in the 35+ percent rate compared to our 1 to 5 percent rate. Doesn't seem like cycling verses cars makes all that much difference if the life expectancy rate is only 1 or 2 years apart. I am sure it made a good story for someone at the NYT but it was a bit weak on relivance compared to the effects of a bad economy on the mental health of a group that is in the peak earning years of their life.

But still it all comes down to personal choices, we can choose to cycle or sit on the sofa. It doesn't seem like the government has been able to figure out how to get a couch potato off of the couch so I can't see our government having a big effect on public responsibility for their own choices. Those of us in this forum are not just Lucky, we have made a decission that has helped us get to where we are and unlike the popular statement that we didn't do it on our own I say then just who gets me out of bed on on my bike, dang sure it isn't my congressman and isn't the president.
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Old 01-10-13, 06:50 PM   #25
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Have you read Joe Friel's Book," Cycling past 50?"
I bought it, but the print's too small for night time reading.

Seriously, it would not surprise me a bit if all the cycling didn't do squat to increase my life expectancy. And I don't care. What is for sure is that it increases health and enjoyment while I am alive.

Like Indiana Jones said ... "It's not the years, it's the miles." The same number of years but more miles sounds like a good deal to me.
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