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Get Out and Ride! Metabolic Disease and Cycling

September 6th, 2011
Just another excuse to get out there and ride…

A human heart!

The number one cause of death in the WORLD is cardiovascular disease. Just FYI. There are a few main factors that elevate your risk of having cardiovascular disease (CVD) which I have listed below. Out of the 8 main risk factors, 7 are by your choice of lifestyle! I will briefly outline how each of them are drastically improved by bike riding!
Medically speaking, these are the parameters that doctors use to clinically assess CVD risk.
Obesity
  • Cycling keeps the weight off by burning off those calories! Also exercising keeps your metabolism at a high level, thus you burn more calories in your sleep too.
Diabetes
  • Exercise improves the insulin sensitivity of your body, thus your body responds better to the same amount of insulin. Insulin keeps your blood sugar low. Ultimately, if you have bad insulin sensitivity, then your pancreas has to work extra hard to make insulin. This causes your pancreas to burn out and stop functioning leading to high blood sugar and full blown diabetes.
High Blood Pressure
  • Cardio exercise improves your heart strength, and thus your heart needs to work less hard while at rest, thus reducing your blood pressure.
High LDL Cholesterol and Low HDL Cholesterol
  • Both of these profiles are improved through exercise! LDL is the bad guy and HDL is the good guy. Essentially LDL takes cholesterol and deposits it in your body. HDL does what is called reverse cholesterol transport and removes cholesterol from your body.
Sedentary Life = obvious solution is to shred trails often, keyword being often. Exercise for health is different from exercise for fitness. Exercising at a zone 3ish heart rate for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week is plenty to stay in good cardiovascular health. So preach this to your parents and friends who think doing 5-hour training rides everyday is out of their realm.
Smoking = up to you! In my humble opinion, not the greatest idea. Probably not ideal for riding bikes either…
Family History = only factor out of your control… Having parents or grandparents who were prone to CVD makes you more prone. But remember, out of all these risk factors, this is the only one out of your hands.
The details about how all this works is really complicated and scientists are still trying to figure it all out. Ultimately, I hope to be working on these problems and helping come up with solutions as my academic research career progresses. An example of how complex metabolic pathways in CVD are…

Biology is Complex!!!

For now…THE BEST SOLUTION IS TO PEDAL! And eat healthy too. So now you can talk real doctor talk when you try to convince your friends/family that exercise is important.
Best Regards,
Almost, but not really at all Dr. Nitish Nag
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