Masters Cyclists Stick With Your Programs

Are you a cyclist for the long haul? Are you already a "Master" (30+ years old), but think it's too late to start riding? Not according to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal1.

The study looked at the activity levels and mortality rates of men over 50 years old. Low physical activity levels were defined by sedentary activities. Medium activity levels were those who walked or cycled for pleasure. High activity levels were defined as those involved in at least 3 hours a week of active recreational sports, heavy gardening, hard physical training and/or competitive sports.

I think just about all of us reading BicyclingBlogger could be characterized as falling into the high activity category. But if you think you're not there yet, don't despair; the men who fell into either the medium or high categories enjoyed a lower risk of mortality.

A Small Wrinkle

Pardon the pun, but there was one wrinkle in this study of older men - you are better off hitting age 50 already in the high activity category than trying to ramp things up after age 50.

Specifically, men who moved up into the high category during the first 5 years after age 50 increased their mortality rates by 2.6 times more than the 50+ men already in the high activity category. But if you stick with the program for at least 10 years (and it doesn't kill you in the process) you cut your mortality rate in half. That's a huge benefit, especially from something most of us have fun doing, i.e., being "athletes".

Your 3 Take Home Messages From This Study
  1. It's never too late to begin a regular cycling program to enjoy lower risks of death. If you're not already doing at least 3 hours a week of training, plan to start increasing your volume - now.
  2. Stick with your program for at least 10 years to really lock in the benefits.
  3. Work with the guidance of your physician, especially if you are older than 50 and just starting your program.
1. BMJ 2009;338:b688, Total mortality after changes in leisure time physical activity in 50 year old men: 35 year follow-up of population based cohort

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