It’s hot and sticky. No, it’s not the weather, it’s the tea!
Having something to look forward to is all that’s needed to get you on the bike. And there’s nothing as good as riding with friends and knowing that at your destination there’s a sweet treat offered at a welcoming place. Windsor is that place and cinnamon buns is that treat.
Yet recent research suggests that there’s more treats in store for regular endurance cyclists. According to a recent article by BBC’s Medical Correspondent, Fergus Walsh, cycling can add years to your life.
“At the moment I do it simply for the love of racing,” says Jake, “but looking at Granddad, I know it will keep me fit and healthy in years to come.” – Jake Womersley, Cycling Pro and grandson to Cycling Great, Brian Robinson
We all know that regular exercise coupled with a healthy balanced diet doesn’t just make you look good, but does you wonders in the long run. At an everyday level, cycling is being enjoyed by people across the entire gender and age spectrum. With the sport gaining popularity there’s going to be more people to testify to it’s health benefits.
The Fountain of Youth?
In his article, Walsh acknowledges the emergence of the Middle Aged Man In Lycra (MAMIL). Certainly one of the least complimentary labels given to cycling fans. The truth is there are hoards of such cyclists, your author being one of them, but for every MAMIL, there are dozens more young male and female riders. Baroudeurs, Imdad, Jack and Jesamine are fine example of young people loving the sport and engaging with people.
Walsh reveals he too is a MAMIL and has discovered that having accomplished the Welsh Dragon Ride last year, he now sets his sights for the Prudential Ride London to Surrey. Sentiments we Baroudeurs can share! Here, perhaps it would be interesting for the study to look into the social benefits of cycling. For everyday people like ourselves who emulate our heroes, getting on a bike with friends is one of the things that makes riding in a group so much fun. There aren’t many sports where you can talk with your team for 5 hours whilst embracing your environment.
Living a Culture of Longevity
The National Geographic looked into the longevity of 4 groups of people where Centenarians are prominent. The findings seem to suggest that being with people is one of the key factors to having a long and prosperous life:
Okay, give me the bad news
Walsh goes on to explain that two studies, one by the European Society of Cardiology and , are limited to being only observational studies. The concern being that there are many other factors contributing to health and well being. Of course the good news is that by association, cycling is a good sport to start and continue. The caveat being that untrained individuals and people with underlying health problems will need to proceed with caution.
“Our major finding is that repeated very intense exercise prolongs life span in well trained practitioners” – Int J Sports Med 2011
Interestingly the association identifies a silver lining: people involved in intense cycling – enough to be out of breath – lived longer and have significant health benefits than those who pootled at a pace where they could have a conversation. For men, the extra life expectancy suggests an additional five years and for women, four years. Okay, we pootle a little, but not a lot!
That VO2 Max Thingy
As cyclists we hear a lot about VO2 Max. Essentially, it is a reflection of the maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume during exercise. Important for us because it not only outlines your cardiovascular health, but on the bike, how long you can go, and how quickly you can recover.
In terms of overall health, it’s good to know that you can train to preserve much of this. The added benefit of knowing that if we ever do go into major surgery, not only do we stand a better chance of surviving, but of a quicker recovery too.
Whilst the evidence isn’t conclusive – who these days is willing to put themselves on the line and say otherwise? There is growing evidence that the right kind of high-intensity training, in association with a healthy diet and attitude, may not be able to prevent ageing, but will certainly give you some added years to enjoy.
When life can be this good, why not do it gracefully? Go on and ride your bicycle with a little treat at the end!
“These amazing people in 3 different cultures represent a potential to see your great-grandchildren grow up. A potential to be healthy and happy well into your older years…I read that genetics only account for 30% of how long you live. So the majority of how long you live is up to your lifestyle. It’s up to you.” – David McLain
More on Windsor? See ’95 Miles and No Queen’