By LMQC Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell, St. Ambrose communications professor, RAGBRAI-er, pizza lover and longtime weight watcher.
The old joke is, “Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
Well, I’m one person who hates talking about the weather. To me, it’s boring. Inevitable. And there is nothing you can do about it.
I tell myself: I’ve been on this planet a lot of years. Every spring the weather warms up. Eventually.
And when it does, I’m going to hop on my bike as often as I can and ride for as long and as far as I can.
In the meantime, I bide my time by making sure the winter-deflated tires are pumped; the water bottle is found, emptied of the last ride of last year’s stale water, washed and re-filled; and the bike helmet is dusted and adjusted.
Finally, the moment I am astride the bike and the wheels start rolling – any weight of the world that might have tried to settle on my shoulders is sloughed off.
I love to ride through QC neighborhoods on early Sunday mornings, but during the week stick mostly to the area’s great bike paths. Fortunately, you can have both in Bettendorf, where extra-wide sidewalks run through neighborhoods to invite biking, running and walking.
No matter where I ride, though, I am instantly 10 years old again every spring, rolling down the sidewalk, away from my parents’ house, out into the world of endless possibilities.
Every year, on that first ride, in the first 100 yards, my mind flashes back to my first bike: a royal blue, 16-inch girls bike, handed down from my sister to my brother to me.
It’s not the bike I focus on. Heck, it was too big AND it was a girl’s bike. But it was the feeling of freedom I got and still get, each time I get on a bike.
On a bike, you feel young again. And actually, it may be more than a feeling. Scientists in England found that riding a bike can slow the aging process dramatically.
The idea for the study came from King’s College Professor Norman Lazarus who is an avid bike rider. He’s 82 and feels good. Really good. He’d been expecting to feel old at his age but he didn’t. He wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that he loves to ride his bike.
So he and his colleagues studied 125 amateur cyclists between the ages of 55 and 79. What they found was that like other avid exercisers, these folks had good heart heath, bone density and muscle mass.
But what was surprising was how the decades of bike riding influenced their immune systems. Researchers say that some aspects of their immune systems were like that of 20-year-old kids. Another benefit was that the men’s testosterone level did not decrease.
It’s enough to make you jump on your bike before the snow melts.
Don’t worry. Every spring the weather warms up. Eventually. Let’s just not talk about it.
|Meet Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell. Alan is a communications professor at St. Ambrose University and a former reporter for WQAD-TV who has exercised – and dieted – his entire life. Read Alan’s other blog posts.|