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Health benefits of biking

Old 04-23-12, 12:28 PM
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Health benefits of biking

Last fall I started riding my bike every day. At first I didn't notice anything different than when I'd ride occasionally, except more soreness. But after a few weeks of daily riding about 1.5 hours, I noticed:

--Calf and thigh muscles firming up like they haven't been for years.
--Increased daily moods.
--More everyday energy.
--Much sounder sleep.

I've heard that marathon runners develop "chaperone proteins" that provide significant health benefits. And the endorphin production no doubt adds to general mood elevation.

What health benefits have you noticed, and what do the docs say?
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Old 04-23-12, 02:37 PM
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I always feel better after riding, so I'm going to assume it's the endorphin thing. My wife says the same thing, although she doesn't ride as often or as far as I do. I always sleep better after riding, too. One thing I noticed that you didn't mention is that riding makes my chronic low back pain less noticeable - whether that's the endorphins or just the relaxation from the ride and being outdoors where I can clear my head, I don't know and I don't care - but I do enjoy the relief!
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Old 04-23-12, 03:55 PM
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"Starting" to do anyting , like bike riding, is always hard to do since it tends to make a person a bit sore and tire in the beginning.

BUT........

The payoff ,after awhile, is WOW when you ask yourself "why did I wait so long" since you now feel'.........great!!!
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 04-23-12, 06:30 PM
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My knee quit hurting. I guess running, even as little as I do in the winter, had finally started taking it's toll. Mostly I got my 30" waist back.
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Old 04-23-12, 11:55 PM
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10kg lighter, increased energy all day, better mood all day, reduced appetite (good for keeping the weight off!), leg muscles like nothing I've seen before, Cholestrol levels totally normal, Heart rate and blood pressure at excellent. Totally the best thing I ever did for myself.
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Old 04-24-12, 02:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Nightshade
"Starting" to do anyting , like bike riding, is always hard to do since it tends to make a person a bit sore and tire in the beginning.

BUT........

The payoff ,after awhile, is WOW when you ask yourself "why did I wait so long" since you now feel'.........great!!!
Other benefits not mentioned, are things like the following:

1) Greater lung capacity and increased respiratory efficiency

2) More efficient cellular metabolism

3) Greater mental acuity

4) Greater skin tone

5) More relaxed nerves, thus less tension

PS.

I see you're feeling better, my friend!...That's a very good thing!

You're a good guy, NightShade!

Last edited by SlimRider; 04-24-12 at 02:26 AM.
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Old 04-24-12, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by SlimRider
Other benefits not mentioned, are things like the following:

1) Greater lung capacity and increased respiratory efficiency

2) More efficient cellular metabolism

3) Greater mental acuity

4) Greater skin tone

5) More relaxed nerves, thus less tension

PS.

I see you're feeling better, my friend!...That's a very good thing!

You're a good guy, NightShade!
Thanks!! I finally have been able to pull myself outta the funk I was in. Now I'm spending my time getting my bike and trike ready for the season.
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 04-26-12, 03:40 AM
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More everyday energy.
 
Old 04-26-12, 04:38 AM
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Heres one slight side effect I found. Tender muscles in my legs. Sure they are strong and look good, but they hurt if I push into them. Hoping that will go away eventually...
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Old 04-26-12, 04:59 AM
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At 63 yrs old i started riding last october and 'got into it' dec or jan of this yr. There are many measurable benefits as other poster have described but it's the mental benefits i enjoy most. I have more energy, can move faster, think quicker, sleep better and wake up refreshed, over all feel a whole lot better. I am a business owner and riding my bike is the only time i don't think about work, business and money ... i enjoy listenin to the bike, the breeze in my face and thinkin about the N+1 of course.

My wife rides with me half the time and it's one of our favorite times to talk !!!
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Old 04-26-12, 05:17 AM
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How long you been riding? I rarely have pain from riding anymore, occassionally if it is very very windy my thighs hurt.
Originally Posted by krobinson103
Heres one slight side effect I found. Tender muscles in my legs. Sure they are strong and look good, but they hurt if I push into them. Hoping that will go away eventually...
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Old 04-26-12, 05:43 AM
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How long you been riding? I rarely have pain from riding anymore, occassionally if it is very very windy my thighs hurt.
This current set 3 months 7 days a week 20-35km a day during the week. On commuting days that gets up to 60km. The weekends generally end up at 50-70km a day depending on family commitments and weather. Monthly it would be no less than 1000km and no more than 1200km. The pain is much less than it used to be so I suspect I'm gettinjg used to it. I also suspect that my definition of a 'day off' - 20km ride at slow pace, is not enough to let my body recover. But, I just love to ride so much that I feel worse if I don't ride on any given day.
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Old 04-26-12, 05:45 AM
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I would be sore too if I rode that much. Maybe you need a rest day every week, complete rest, not a recovery ride.
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Old 04-26-12, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by ForFun
I am a business owner and riding my bike is the only time i don't think about work, business and money ...
Tell me about it. About halfway through my usual 1.5 hour daily ride I start laughing out loud (here and there, not continuously) at lighter thoughts that start popping into my head as my mood elevates and the stress of the day melts off. No doubt due to the endorphine mill cranking up in the bloodstream.
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Old 04-26-12, 03:20 PM
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Lower back pain, gone.
30 lbs, gone.
Blood pressure meds, gone.
Good for the soul.
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Old 04-27-12, 10:46 AM
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Here's an article from the April 25 NYT about biochemical production from exercise. It focuses on "runner's high" but also mentions cycling as producing the same effects. But not walking. And don't ask a ferret to be your biking partner.

Ferrets don’t often figure in studies of exercise, perhaps because they don’t exercise much. They slink like fog through tunnels, sprint briefly over open ground and spend much of their time sleeping. They are, in biological terms, what’s called a noncursorial species, meaning that they are reluctant and lousy distance runners.

Which is why they were ideal subjects for a new experiment conducted at the University of Arizona in Tucson looking at whether humans and other species evolved to like running.

Many anthropologists and distance runners believe that running guided the evolution of early humans. We ran in search of dinner and away from predators.

But running is costly, metabolically. It incinerates energy. It can also cause injury. A twisted ankle would have removed your typical early human from the gene pool.

So why did our ancestors continue to run over the millennia “and not evolve other strategies for survival?” asks David A. Raichlen, a professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona, who led the study, which was published in The Journal of Experimental Biology. “We wondered if natural selection might have used neurobiological mechanisms to encourage exercise activity,” he continues.

Specifically, he and his colleagues became interested in the evolutionary role of the endocannabinoid system. As the name suggests, endocannabinoids are chemicals that, like cannabis in marijuana, alter and lighten moods. But the body produces endocannabinoids naturally. In other studies, endocannabinoid levels have been shown to increase after prolonged running and cycling, leading many scientists to conclude that endocannabinoids help to create runner’s high.

But Dr. Raichlen wondered if the endocannabinoids had had a more momentous role in the development of mankind as a whole. Had we continued to run, as a species, not because we had to run, but because we had become hard-wired to like it?

To test that idea, Dr. Raichlen and his colleagues decided to compare the endocannabinoid response to running in species that both do and do not historically run — to see, in other words, which animals experience a runner’s high.

Ferrets were chosen to represent the nonrunners (mostly because, Dr. Raichlen says, “we could adopt them out into the community afterward,” unlike other local noncursorial animals like possums and skunks).

Humans and dogs became the designated cursorial, or distance running, species. The scientists recruited 10 local recreational runners and 8 dogs of various breeds.

They then took blood samples from all of the people and animals and, after some preliminary, gentle training (“using positive reinforcement,” Dr. Raichlen says), had each person or animal run on a treadmill for 30 minutes at a pace equivalent to about 70 percent of his, her or its maximum heart rate.

On a separate day, the people and dogs walked for 30 minutes on the treadmill, while the ferrets, which had found walking on the treadmill difficult to master, rested for 30 minutes in their cages.

The scientists drew blood after each session. They checked all of the samples for endocannabinoids.

It turned out that, as expected, the humans had shown significantly increased levels of endocannabinoids after running. So had the dogs, suggesting, for the first time, that they, too, experience a runner’s high.

But neither species had developed increased endocannabinoid levels after walking.

And the ferrets didn’t show higher endocannabinoid levels after either session. They gained, it seems, no neurobiological pleasure from running.

What these findings suggest, besides that ferrets will not make ideal training partners for marathon runners, is, Dr. Raichlen says, that “a reward response” to aerobic activity “appears to be part of our evolutionary history.”

Liking to run, it seems, may have helped to make humans what they are.

So why then, in actual practice, do so few humans today run? (Dogs are another matter; mine has to be constrained from tearing off and lolloping for miles.)

“That’s the million dollar question,” Dr. Raichlen says. “It appears from our study that we have the evolutionary drive” to exercise. But modern man has learned to ignore it.

Of course, there are limitations to the study and what it can tell us about why so many of us tend not to move much. The human volunteers were all fit, for one thing, unlike most modern humans. They may have been uniquely motivated to stay active from an early age and may not be representative of your typical human, present or past.

It’s also a bit difficult to draw conclusions based on comparisons between people and ferrets. “Ferrets are weird,” says David Linden, a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and author of “The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning and Gambling Feel So Good.” “They live in burrows and sleep 18 hours a day.”

Still, the new study is provocative. “Our results are very preliminary,” Dr. Raichlen says. “But if they have a message, it’s that our evolutionary history appears to have included this kind of endurance activity and rewarded it. And as a result, we continue to have a biological imperative” to move.
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Old 04-27-12, 10:53 AM
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When We do our Saturday Hills 50+ miler, and I'm in pain from the exertion, I'll sometimes say " This has to be good for you" Cause it hurts. I definitely keep my weight down when I ride a lot, too.
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Old 04-27-12, 11:12 PM
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Ah, I love it when you notice a tangible difference when starting biking or getting back to it! Two years ago I started commuting to work (30mins one way) and first week was just painful, but I pushed myself, sweated like crazy and was dying after. A weekend of staying at home and eating chocolate cake like a mofo, Monday comes and... whoa, this is so much easier!

There used to be this one hill I would always dread, the stand-up-on-bike-halfway-through, completely out of breath by the time you reach top. After two weeks I was eating that hill for breakfast! Nowadays, I dont even need to switch to a lower gear, stand up or slow down much. I OWN that hill.

Out of curiosity, anybody else get this very odd but tangible sensation when you build the muscle strength and suddenly hit a steep hill? It's like... I don't know how to describe it, it's like you are thinking "crap I wont make it" and after 5 seconds your muscles suddenly kick into a higher gear, you start breathing in a bit more heavily and you stabilize, going up that hill at a steady pace, feeling your muscles, but not exactly hurting. And you know full well that you CAN keep it up and reach that top without being out of breath.

Originally Posted by krobinson103
This current set 3 months 7 days a week 20-35km a day during the week. On commuting days that gets up to 60km. The weekends generally end up at 50-70km a day depending on family commitments and weather. Monthly it would be no less than 1000km and no more than 1200km. The pain is much less than it used to be so I suspect I'm gettinjg used to it. I also suspect that my definition of a 'day off' - 20km ride at slow pace, is not enough to let my body recover. But, I just love to ride so much that I feel worse if I don't ride on any given day.
Holy crap, that's intense, and here I thought I was biking too much. You must be eating like a vacuum! I remember when I was doing my work commute, 1hr a day of hilly and intense ride 5days a week. At first I was seeing big improvements week to week, but after 3 months of that my leg muscles just flat out started refusing to work. Flat surface would be fine, but if I hit even a slight incline, an almost unbearable soreness/pain would instantly overcome them. In the end I started taking more rest days and I also think I was way under eating (I did lose weight over that time), so my body wasnt able to rebuild / sustain my legs.
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Old 04-28-12, 02:17 PM
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Cycling saved my life for sure.....(See sig)
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Old 04-28-12, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by gb155
Cycling saved my life for sure.....(See sig)
Wow! That's amazing, congratulations!
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Old 04-29-12, 03:47 AM
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Thanks
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Old 04-29-12, 04:12 AM
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Out of curiosity, anybody else get this very odd but tangible sensation when you build the muscle strength and suddenly hit a steep hill? It's like... I don't know how to describe it, it's like you are thinking "crap I wont make it" and after 5 seconds your muscles suddenly kick into a higher gear, you start breathing in a bit more heavily and you stabilize, going up that hill at a steady pace, feeling your muscles, but not exactly hurting. And you know full well that you CAN keep it up and reach that top without being out of breath.
Happened today. I was riding along on the cycle path at about 35km/h when I see the cars are slowed down to about 40 km/h. Looked at them and thought I can beat them to the end of this bridge. At first my legs hurt, then something kicked in and I knew I could sustain 40km/h+ for as long as it took. beat the cars to the end and then my knees started to remind me that riding that fast 60km into my ride might not have been the best idea...

You must be eating like a vacuum!
Limiting my calorie intake to about 2000 calories unless its a day like today when I went 80km at a fast pace. I did have to stop and eat a toasted sandwitch and a few small cookies then. Got home and had some skinless boneless chicken and some beans. Don't think I'll be eating dinner.
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Old 04-29-12, 11:00 AM
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GB, it's people like you that force me to question my general belief that people can't change.
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Old 04-29-12, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by enigmaT120
GB, it's people like you that force me to question my general belief that people can't change.
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Old 04-29-12, 02:11 PM
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It keeps me off of the tops of tall buildings with high powered rifles...

That... and it helps me stay as active and as pain free as possible, was the reason I met my best friend (my wife) and really does keep me sane.
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