Can cycling lead to a reduced life expectancy?



sergen

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Jul 28, 2003
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I think it's in Tim Moore's book that he states the average life expectancy of a Pro Cyclist is nearly 15 years less than that of the average man.

Whilst Moore's book is largely a comedy account it's clear that he did some serious research for it and I'm wondering where he got this statistic and whether there's anything in it?

MORE IMPORTANTLY - for the rest of us mortals who will never achieve Pro status, but who nevertheless train to a fairly high level, is there any medical evidence that suggests that over the long-term cycling can actually reduce your life expectancy rather than make you healthier as the perceived conventional view would suggest? I'd be interested on opinions as to whether continual pressure and strain on the cardio-vascular system does more long-term damage than good?
 

mattjf

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Jul 31, 2005
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I have no idea what I'm talking about here, but I won't let that stop me from giving my opinion
smile.gif


My first thought would be there is a real difference between pro riders and amature riders in body fat and weight. If you look at some photos of Rasmussen during this years tour, he looks like a sickly cancer patient. It looks terribly unhealthy. I don't know though, maybe it's fine to have body fat so low.

-Matt
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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I believe the prevailing medical wisdom is that regular exercise prolongs life rather than shortening it. The biggest health risk to cyclists is probably death-by-SUV.
 

cadence230

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Mar 16, 2005
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Free radical damage! When you increase your activity level you increase oxidation(rust never sleeps). We are killing our cells prematurely. I have heard Lance say that he believes he won't live as long if he did'nt ride at long intense efforts.
 

karries

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May 26, 2005
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I can only speak for myself. Before I started cycling I had problems with colestrol and bloodpressure. Because I cycle I don't have to take any medication for my problems.blood pressure is back to normal,cholestrol back to normal. Bar a run in with a vehicle I can not see that cyling is going to decrease lifespan. Thats my pennys worth.:D :p
 

mocka58

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Jul 13, 2004
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Reduced life expectancy may have more to do with stuff the pros inject into themselves than the stress of cycling itself.
sergen said:
I think it's in Tim Moore's book that he states the average life expectancy of a Pro Cyclist is nearly 15 years less than that of the average man.

Whilst Moore's book is largely a comedy account it's clear that he did some serious research for it and I'm wondering where he got this statistic and whether there's anything in it?

MORE IMPORTANTLY - for the rest of us mortals who will never achieve Pro status, but who nevertheless train to a fairly high level, is there any medical evidence that suggests that over the long-term cycling can actually reduce your life expectancy rather than make you healthier as the perceived conventional view would suggest? I'd be interested on opinions as to whether continual pressure and strain on the cardio-vascular system does more long-term damage than good?
 

scotty72

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Jul 10, 2005
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mocka58 said:
Reduced life expectancy may have more to do with stuff the pros inject into themselves than the stress of cycling itself.
I was thinking that myself.

If not that, then we can say that the pros over-do it some-what.

There is a big difference in general fun and fitness and pushing your body to its breaking point.

This would apply to any physical sport, especially endurance events.

Scotty
 

Carrera

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Feb 2, 2004
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You're quite correct. The life expectancy of pro riders who do the TDF today has fallen massively compared with TDF riders who were on the scene before Merckx. Life expectancy for modern pro riders is shockingly low yet the TDF hasn't changed so much over the decades.
So, drugs and EPO has to be a factor.
Really, I think this boils down to common sense. An unfit man or woman who takes up cycling and pushes the cardiovascular system hard through sensible training will be far healthier. This is without a doubt the case.
However, any activity carried to absolute extremes runs a risk of doing more harm than good. I personally never push myself so hard on climbs e.t.c. that I might sense an overload of my heart and lungs. I've heard of very fit riders who had heart attacks (even though I confess there may have been an underlying problem to begin with).
What I'm saying is you have to push yourself gradually and build fitness up a bit at a time. It shouldn't be forced. Exhaustion and fatigue are warning signs to reduce activity a little.
At any rate, you can take comfort in the fact former champion riders such as Francisco Bahamontes are living into their late seventies (Bahamontes just opened a cycling museum near Madrid).
All in all, a cyclist who trains hard but with common sense should live well into the seventies but we also need to remember quality of living will be far higher (as opposed to someone who may live long but isn't fit and suffers reduced physical activity as a result).



mocka58 said:
Reduced life expectancy may have more to do with stuff the pros inject into themselves than the stress of cycling itself.
 

Dr.Hairybiker

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Aug 23, 2004
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sergen said:
I think it's in Tim Moore's book that he states the average life expectancy of a Pro Cyclist is nearly 15 years less than that of the average man.

Whilst Moore's book is largely a comedy account it's clear that he did some serious research for it and I'm wondering where he got this statistic and whether there's anything in it?

MORE IMPORTANTLY - for the rest of us mortals who will never achieve Pro status, but who nevertheless train to a fairly high level, is there any medical evidence that suggests that over the long-term cycling can actually reduce your life expectancy rather than make you healthier as the perceived conventional view would suggest? I'd be interested on opinions as to whether continual pressure and strain on the cardio-vascular system does more long-term damage than good?
Who is Tim Moore? I'm wondering where he got that statistic also...

I could see where the pros are over-taxing themselves, especially during their careers. But after retirement, I have a hard time believing they never recover from it all. What kind of damage could they be doing to their cardio-vascular anyways? I could see joint damage, cartilage deterioration, things like that, but cardio? How?

For regular riders, no matter how intense, I believe it's all about recovery. If you can recover from each effort, you're doing more good than harm.

I believe it's all about recovery.
 

beerco

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Nov 8, 2003
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sergen said:
for the rest of us mortals who will never achieve Pro status, but who nevertheless train to a fairly high level, is there any medical evidence that suggests that over the long-term cycling can actually reduce your life expectancy rather than make you healthier as the perceived conventional view would suggest? I'd be interested on opinions as to whether continual pressure and strain on the cardio-vascular system does more long-term damage than good?

I don't have any data about this (but I am very curious) but don't think that we ams train even close to the level that a pro does. Frankie Andraeu is a local and speaks quite often around where I live. According to him, A TdF pro does around 25k Miles (40,000km) a season. Even lousy pros rid 18k miles. I don't know of any armatures personally who ride over about 10k miles (personally I ride about 5k miles in a good year...this year only about 2 :( )
 

robkit

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Dec 11, 2003
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cadence230 said:
Free radical damage! When you increase your activity level you increase oxidation(rust never sleeps). We are killing our cells prematurely. I have heard Lance say that he believes he won't live as long if he did'nt ride at long intense efforts.

nice bike!...serrota ottrot, record, SRM...pity about the crash!
 

limerickman

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Jan 5, 2004
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It's an interesting question : the notion has been put forward that each person has a pre-determined genetic linked life expectancy.
In other words, if you're not killed through an accident or some other misfortune
that there are pre-defined parameters regarding life expectancy.
For example, the number of beats per heart.
Research has found that the number of heartbeats in a lifetime is genetically determined.
Is this type of research conclusive ?
 

cadence230

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Mar 16, 2005
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robkit said:
nice bike!...serrota ottrot, record, SRM...pity about the crash!
No wreck. I just keep the hoods off the levers because I like the feel of a smaller diameter lever housing in my hand. Like the old days!
 

LIKESBIKES716

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Oct 12, 2005
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Then wiil someone please end it for me now!:D
sergen said:
I think it's in Tim Moore's book that he states the average life expectancy of a Pro Cyclist is nearly 15 years less than that of the average man.

Whilst Moore's book is largely a comedy account it's clear that he did some serious research for it and I'm wondering where he got this statistic and whether there's anything in it?

MORE IMPORTANTLY - for the rest of us mortals who will never achieve Pro status, but who nevertheless train to a fairly high level, is there any medical evidence that suggests that over the long-term cycling can actually reduce your life expectancy rather than make you healthier as the perceived conventional view would suggest? I'd be interested on opinions as to whether continual pressure and strain on the cardio-vascular system does more long-term damage than good?
 

GIFF07

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Jul 3, 2004
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Carrera said:
You're quite correct. The life expectancy of pro riders who do the TDF today has fallen massively compared with TDF riders who were on the scene before Merckx. Life expectancy for modern pro riders is shockingly low yet the TDF hasn't changed so much over the decades.
So, drugs and EPO has to be a factor.

I don't think that drugs were the only factor. Back before Merckx, the average "pro" cyclists were more likely "semi pro" by todays standard. Meaning they made money cycling but not enough to live off of, they had other "real" jobs as well. Probally doing hard manual labor, so they did alot more general health and fitness type training (their job) then todays modern pros. They probally trained on the bike very similarly to todays elite amateurs.
 

Carrera

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For some reason, climbers seem to have the shortest life span. It's well known that climbers have a habit of suffering from depression and several committed suicide (Jimenez and Pantani being 2 examples).

GIFF07 said:
I don't think that drugs were the only factor. Back before Merckx, the average "pro" cyclists were more likely "semi pro" by todays standard. Meaning they made money cycling but not enough to live off of, they had other "real" jobs as well. Probally doing hard manual labor, so they did alot more general health and fitness type training (their job) then todays modern pros. They probally trained on the bike very similarly to todays elite amateurs.
 

scotty72

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Jul 10, 2005
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Carrera said:
For some reason, climbers seem to have the shortest life span. It's well known that climbers have a habit of suffering from depression and several committed suicide (Jimenez and Pantani being 2 examples).
About halfway up a huge hill, I start to feel the same :)
 

John Budnik

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This past winter a friend of mine died of a heart attack while skiing in Utah. He was active all his life, a cyclist and skier. He was 59 years old and ate well, his parents and siblings are all outliving him. He wasn't supposed to die.

I ran into the head of geriatrics at a fairly major hospital. He told me that eating well, and being active helps you to increase your quality of life, but in general, it shortens your life expectancy. He went on to say that he sees very few active people, since the first time they know something is wrong is as they are dying. Sedentary people don't stress themselves to the point of having a catastrophic failure, so they have the opportunity to receive medical care.
 

Doctor Morbius

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John Budnik said:
I ran into the head of geriatrics at a fairly major hospital. He told me that eating well, and being active helps you to increase your quality of life, but in general, it shortens your life expectancy. He went on to say that he sees very few active people, since the first time they know something is wrong is as they are dying. Sedentary people don't stress themselves to the point of having a catastrophic failure, so they have the opportunity to receive medical care.
With all due respect for your friend, that is the way I want to go. To hell with sitting around sick in some nursing home waiting for death. I've seen too many of my relatives holding on and for what? Another few months worth of hospitalization at the faimily's or tax payer's expense? That's not the answer.
 

mtbnewbie

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Doctor Morbius said:
With all due respect for your friend, that is the way I want to go. To hell with sitting around sick in some nursing home waiting for death. I've seen too many of my relatives holding on and for what? Another few months worth of hospitalization at the faimily's or tax payer's expense? That's not the answer.
I agree fully. I would much rather die quickly and suddenly doing something I love and enjoy than wasting away in a hospital.

Coming fast around the corner, Didn't see the SUV pulling out "Oh! shi..." :eek:
 

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