Is it healthier to sit on the couch or to ride a bike?July 3, 2009
I came across this article in the New York Times and felt an immense amount of frustration which I felt the need to vent out here. If you can’t be bothered to click on the link and read the article, in a nutshell it discusses whether bicycling is bad for your bones. This debate has risen as a result of a number of studies which suggest that competitive bikers have a lower bone density than the average person.
To me this has the same sort of ring to it as the old “bananas are really high in sugar so you should limit your intake of them”. Yes, if you eat five bananas a day, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but really you’re better off eating a couple extra bananas than you are eating junk food. I know of people who will choose sugar-free packaged foods over a banana and think that they are doing their health a favor by choosing an item with less or no sugar in it. I’m doubtful it’s a healthy choice to make.
Considering how much bad food we eat, and how little we exercise, why are we concerning ourselves and wasting time and money with conducting studies saying we shouldn’t eat as much healthy food or shouldn’t compete in certain sports?
Okay, so that’s not really what the article is trying to imply, I’m sure. But it still bothers me. Because I know that there are many people out there who will jump on something like this and use it as an excuse why they shouldn’t exercise or eat healthy.
I think that once you’re eating quite healthy and exercising regularly, then these studies are things that you should maybe think about. I didn’t start to cut back on my excessive carrot intake until my skin started turning orange. Why is that? Because eating a few too many carrots is better than eating a bag of chips or drinking a can of Coke. I don’t eat quite so many carrots these days and I instead am eating more vegetables with a variety of nutrients so that I’m not having an overabundance of vitamin A. My skin has turned a normal, non-orange color as a result, too.
Something that I did find interesting in this article which I was not previously aware of is that a possible reason for the skeletal damage in competitive cyclists is because they sweat so much, and we lose calcium through sweat (although that makes perfect sense, come to think of it, that we’d be losing nutrients other than electrolytes from sweating). But part of this doesn’t really make sense: don’t competitive runners sweat just as much as competitive cyclists? Yet it is bicycling, rather than other endurance sports, which appears to be correlated to a loss in bone density. We also have to remember that there could be many, many factors involved which could all be possible reasons for bone damage.
What do you think? Is there a point to these kinds of studies? Does it just encourage people to fall back on junk food because they already know full well that it’s bad for them? These sorts of research are a good reminder that moderation is key… but I still believe that the majority of us should be more concerned with cutting back on the junk and increasing the exercise than worrying about not eating certain fruits or not engaging in certain activities.
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