Readers of Cycling Wednesdays know that I am often tough on the endurance athlete crowd. Our over-indulged, egocentric lifestyles, and less-than-tranquil temperaments make great fodder for posts on inflammation.
Sorry about that.
But not this Wednesday, though.
Today, I am putting your healthy ways up on a pedestal. I would like to invite you into my office for some show-and-tell.
What’s making me feel so buoyant today?
Perhaps it’s that my cannabinoid receptors were activated by a beautiful Wednesday ride under an unseasonably warm winter sun.
But the other thing that moves me to remark on your healthiness is how it contrasts to your human peers–ie, regular people. In heart health you are way ahead of the average Joe, who frequently carries too much weight, moves too little and sleeps with a pressurized plastic face mask. This is not big news.
But what nearly blew me off my carbon-fibre bike were the epically horrible results of this recent study on nearly 2000 middle-aged regular people.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh set out to study novel strategies for reducing heart disease. Their study is still ongoing, but their preliminary report (published in Circulation and nicely summarized on theHeart.org) is shocking: Of these 1993 regular people, who were motivated enough to volunteer for a study, only one fulfilled the AHA’s “simple 7” steps to heart health. (That’s not another of my typos; only one single soul met the AHA guidelines. A Harvard journalism grad in sea of bloggers.) What’s more, less than 10% of the 1993 study volunteers met just 5 of the 7 components.
You might think that these seven components of heart health set the bar too high. You would be wrong.
Here’s where you cyclists (and endurance athletes) get to step up for the show-and-tell.
You live the simple-7:
- Not currently smoking. Check.
- Body-mass Index (BMI) less than 25: Check. I’m about 22, and I’m heavy for a bike racer.
- Regular physical activity: Check. By definition.
- Eating a healthy diet, including 3 or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables.: Check.
- Total cholesterol less than 200. For most of us, check.
- BP less than 120/80: Check. Again, excluding BP readings while waiting too long for a coffee, most cyclists have normal blood pressure.
- Fasting blood sugar less than 100: Check. Most cyclists handle sugar quite well.
To those of you whose avocations include daily exercise, attention to healthy eating, and maintaing the lowest possible weight, I say congratulations. When graphed on the “normal” curve you sit to the right of 99.9% of your middle-aged peers.
This news should infuse you with happiness, optimism and pride—all of which is heart-healthy!