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Game over - it's official

Old 01-22-08, 06:19 PM
  #1  
Brian Ratliff
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Game over - it's official

The number one reason to commute by bicycle to work:

Daily exercise dramatically lowers men's death rates

The key point:

Originally Posted by article
Researchers classified the subjects into fitness categories based on their treadmill performance, expressed as peak metabolic equivalents (METs) achieved. Technically, a MET is equivalent to oxygen consumption of 3.5 milliliters per kilograms of body weight per minute. One MET represents the amount of oxygen the person uses at rest. Anything above one MET represents work. The higher the MET level achieved, the more fit the individual.

Based on this concept, the researchers divided the participants into four categories:

-- 3,170 men were “low fit,” achieving less than 5 METs;
-- 5,153 men were “moderately fit,” achieving 5 to 7 METs;
-- 5,075 were “highly fit,” achieving 7.1 to 10 METs; and
-- 2,261 were “very highly fit,” achieving more than 10 METs.

The study found that “highly fit” men had half the risk of death compared to “low fit” men. Men who achieved “very highly fit” levels had a 70 percent lower risk of death compared to those in the “low fit” category. For every 1-MET increase in exercise capacity (fitness), the risk for death from all causes was 13 percent for both African Americans and Caucasians.
Anyone ask why you're the crazy one on a bike, hand them a copy of the article. No words need be spoken.

Of course... I am mostly preaching to the choir here... But the independent verification of the fitness/mortality link is nice. 70%... That's got to more than offset the somewhat increased risk of death from cycling in traffic.
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Old 01-22-08, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
That's got to more than offset the somewhat increased risk of death from cycling in traffic.
As I have said before. I'd rather croak on the road, than in a Lazy Boy.
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Old 01-22-08, 07:36 PM
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I hate to break this to you, but your risk of death is 100%, no matter what. I can guarantee you with utter certainty that you will, at some point, die.

Now, if the study were to say something like very highly fit men live twice as long as low fit men, that would be a reasonable statement.
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Old 01-22-08, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Aloyzius View Post
As I have said before. I'd rather croak on the road, than in a Lazy Boy.
So the folks on recumbents get the best of both?
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Old 01-22-08, 08:22 PM
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Wait a minute, didn't Darwin's Theory of Evolution tell us this long time ago?
Survival of the fittest?

But 70% lower risk of death...
I think the risk of death depends more on where you live, what your occupation is, whether you wear a helmet, etc... than how fit you are.

If you are talking about risk of death due to health issues, then that looks about right.
Though most health issues don't kick in until you are in your 40s,
while cars can run you over whether you are 10, 20, 30, or 40.

So... it's not game over yet.
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Old 01-22-08, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
So the folks on recumbents get the best of both?
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Old 01-22-08, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by wy29 View Post
But 70% lower risk of death...
I think the risk of death depends more on where you live, what your occupation is, whether you wear a helmet, etc... than how fit you are.
Really?
You think whether you wear a bike helmet has more effect on your risk of death than your fitness level?
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Old 01-22-08, 10:46 PM
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Death - the high cost of living.
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Old 01-22-08, 11:17 PM
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Anyone ask why you're the crazy one on a bike, hand them a copy of the article. No words need be spoken.
But I kind of like being the crazy one. If I'm comfortable with it, then it becomes their problem.
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Old 01-23-08, 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted by unkchunk View Post
But I kind of like being the crazy one. If I'm comfortable with it, then it becomes their problem.
This man is very wise.
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Old 01-23-08, 02:55 AM
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That article combined with the "never too cold" article = cycle year long.
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Old 01-23-08, 03:13 AM
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Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
So the folks on recumbents get the best of both?
Damn right we do!

Although having vehicle exhausts at head height might mitigate against us.
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Old 01-23-08, 06:50 AM
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" “very highly fit” levels had a 70 percent lower risk of death compared to those in the “low fit” category."

Maybe 70% lower risk of EARLY death.
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Old 01-23-08, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
The number one reason to commute by bicycle to work:

Daily exercise dramatically lowers men's death rates

The key point:



Anyone ask why you're the crazy one on a bike, hand them a copy of the article. No words need be spoken.

Of course... I am mostly preaching to the choir here... But the independent verification of the fitness/mortality link is nice. 70%... That's got to more than offset the somewhat increased risk of death from cycling in traffic.

Love to read this but I don't get it. Everyone's mortality rate is 100%. How can "fit" men have a 50% mortality rate??? That means that if you never stop riding your bike daily you'll never die! There must be some context we're missing--like over a 5 year period from ages 70-75, perhaps. ???
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Old 01-23-08, 07:30 AM
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They looked at how many people died in a 7.5 year period (approximately? Maybe Science should be a little more specific). This sounds like: exercise more = live longer. That may be true, but it may not as dramatic a difference as they say. For instance, it says that they separated these people into groups and then followed them over the course of several years. It would be interesting if they tested them at several times through out the study to see if they remained in the same category and how that affected their survival. (Me at 19, possibly "highly fit to very highly fit." Me at 26, not so much) Also "correlation does not equal causality" meaning that just linking fitness and longevity does mean fitness causes longevity. If you're suffering from medical problems, you may be less able to exercise, and therefore be less fit, but it may be your medical condition, and not your fitness level, that leads to your death. So it maybe that your fitness level may indicate how healthy you are, but it may not always be the case that you are healthy because you exercise. Sometimes you may be able to exercise because you're healthy. There's lots of evidence that exercise can positively affect your overall health, and this study seems to support that, but I don't think the conclusions they drew were quite warranted, at least not as they described the study. Going back to the original paper might have more info, though.
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Old 01-23-08, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
Really?
You think whether you wear a bike helmet has more effect on your risk of death than your fitness level?
Depends very highly on age, I'd expect. Of course, then I expect it also depends on whether you're talking about risk of immediate death or overall lifespan reduction.

If I had to guess - and that's all it would be - I'd say that wearing a helmet has more of an effect than exercise for young people who are very unlikely to die of heart disease. For older people, the effect won't even be close - exercise saves more lives.

So the only thing I can conclude is, um, stop wearing your helmet when you're 50? Or something.

Btw, for the people confused about the 'risk of death' thing not being 100% - I think the numbers are calculated over a short timeframe. As such, it's not a cumulative probability (which will of course reach 100% at its limit) but a probability evaluated over, say, a year. Or maybe the 7.5 year timeframe of the study. So the conclusion would be that people who exercise reduce their rate of death by X% over that timeframe, not forever. The article does a poor job of explaining how they normalize those numbers, though.
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Old 01-23-08, 07:57 AM
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Here's the horse's mouth, though the article the OP linked lifted it pretty much verbatim.
https://www.americanheart.org/present...tifier=3053238
Unfortunately the trail ends there. There's no link to the original paper, so WYSIWYG as far as methodology,etc.
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Old 01-23-08, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff View Post
The number one reason to commute by bicycle to work:

Daily exercise dramatically lowers men's death rates

The key point:



Anyone ask why you're the crazy one on a bike, hand them a copy of the article. No words need be spoken.

Of course... I am mostly preaching to the choir here...
Maybe this is the official number one reason to commute by bicycle to work for you and those in the "choir" who share your reasons for bike commuting. That also might be a reason some "crazies" might try to proseltyze for a steady diet of tasteless tofu and tea, as well as self denial, Puritanism and teetotalism. I like to bike and I bike to work for fun, any other benefits are just added gravy.

My key point: I don't really need to justify my actions with any reason to anyone who thinks bicycling is crazy.

Last edited by iltb-2; 01-23-08 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 01-23-08, 08:40 AM
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FWIW, before researchers are ready to make definitive statements about what their data prove, they tend to control for things like helmet use, stray bullets, cobra bites, and the like. And obviously, when they say the death rate is lower, they mean the death rate for similarly aged and situated people. Can't we just pat ourselves on the back for being fit, long-living superstars and not get caught up in semantic nitpicking? Because, you know, we are fit, long-living superstars. Totally.
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Old 01-23-08, 08:53 AM
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I, too, thought the "risk of death" was 100% and thought that their wording was funny. I interpret their statement to be the risk of death over a time period. So, saying that your "risk of death" is lowered by 70%, would be like saying that every year, day, minute, etc, your risk of dying would be 70% lower than the risk that a low fit person would see.

I tend to think that the researchers controlled for extraneous factors. What this study then says is that, on an even baseline, fitness plays a huge role in mortality.
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Old 01-23-08, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Ya Tu Sabes View Post
FWIW, before researchers are ready to make definitive statements about what their data prove, they tend to control for things like helmet use, stray bullets, cobra bites, and the like. And obviously, when they say the death rate is lower, they mean the death rate for similarly aged and situated people. Can't we just pat ourselves on the back for being fit, long-living superstars and not get caught up in semantic nitpicking? Because, you know, we are fit, long-living superstars. Totally.
I wish it were true, but it's just not. Why is there so much contention over the relative safety of helmet use? Because the most often quoted study seems to have some serious flaws that call into question the validity of the findings. The "paper" in question here is not even a real, scientific paper. It's a news blurb about a research project, which, presumably, has an actual, scientific paper attached to it, but now we not only don't know about the research methods, but we also don't know how much we can trust the writer's interpretation of the research results. Mainstream media is notoriously bad at accurately interpreting scientific studies (which isn't to say that the American Heart Association is "mainstream media," but again we don't know the details of the original study or the details who is interpreting these studies for their press blurbs). And there's way, way too many studies that don't properly control for all variables, and there's too many cases of results being interpreted in a biased way.

I think we've got plenty of studies that show that exercise is good for you. It'd be great to actually put a number on how good for you it is, but I'm not going to accept their numbers based on "researchers know what they're doing." Where's the paper? Was it peer-reviewed? Who made the conclusions in the article, the researchers or the article author?

There's plenty of reasons to advocate for cycling, exercise being a big one, but I can't blindly accept a study that is so sparse on details. Think of helmet safety again as an example: If you try and make a case for helmets, and you quote a study that many people believe to be flawed, you not only fail to make your case, but you hurt your case by making it seem that you have no "good" evidence to support your claims. I cycling has substantial health benefits, but I won't be pointing to this study to say, "See, this proves it." unless I have enough information to know what the study actually proves.
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Old 01-23-08, 10:41 AM
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I don't have access to the full article, but here is the abstract.

Probably most relevant of what we can see:
Conclusions—Exercise capacity is a strong predictor of all-cause mortality in blacks and whites. The relationship was inverse and graded, with a similar impact on mortality outcomes for both blacks and whites.
I take "all-cause mortality" to mean that they didn't factor in or out any particular kind of death. They just checked to see who was and was not alive in the 7 years. Which means that being physically fit means you're more protected from death by heart disease, car accidents, and snake bites.

And it still looks like they checked to see how fit you were, and then checked to see when/if you died, meaning they also did not factor in changes in lifestyle or examine if there were underlying health reasons why you were at a given fitness level to begin with.

It's still a very positive study as far as the benefits of exercise goes. I'm just not convinced that the "exercise more, live longer" attitude of the press blurb is necessarily justified by the study. It'd be good to see a follow-up study that looked at the mortality of people who start in the lower fitness areas and move to the higher fitness areas, and/or vice versa.
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Old 01-23-08, 11:00 AM
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Judging from the way you are enthusiastically greeting the news about living longer, I'm guessing you must be single.

Q: Why do married men die before their wives?

A: Because they want to.
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Old 01-23-08, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by wy29 View Post
Wait a minute, didn't Darwin's Theory of Evolution tell us this long time ago?
Survival of the fittest?
I don't know if that is sarcasm, but did you know that survival of the fittest refers to the ability to reproduce? Therefore, you can proudly say that those that are more "fit" are best able to reproduce.
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Old 01-23-08, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by CastIron View Post
So the folks on recumbents get the best of both?
Damn straight.
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