Thursday, February 14, 2008

A new reason to ride...

I've always been a fan of Fred Matheny's and Ed Pavelka's newsletter, as well as the cycling resources on their web site itself. Getting the newsletter is always a bit of a treat every Thursday morning.

This morning's edition brought some welcomed advice... unlike the more frequent advice of pedaling intervals until your eyeballs bleed:

"Maybe Bikes & Booze Do Mix

If you enjoy a post-ride beer you may be increasing the heart-healthy benefits of cycling.

A study in Denmark has found that drinking alcohol in moderation seems to have benefits similar to exercise. This research, reported in Time's Feb. 4 issue, is significant in that it was conducted on 12,000 people over a 20-year period.It was found that exercise and drinking alcohol each had an independent beneficial effect on the heart. Mainly, an increase in good cholesterol (HDL) and the removal of fatty deposits created by bad cholesterol (LDL) in blood vessel walls.The study also determined that drinking and exercise combine to have a greater health benefit than either alone.

The Danish researchers defined four categories and found that ...
-- people who never drink and don't exercise had the highest risk of heart
-- people who never drink but do exercise had a 30% lower risk.
-- people who drink moderately but never exercise had a 30% lower risk.
-- people who drink moderately and exercise had a 50% lower risk.

Now, before you swap your Endurox for a 6-pack of Pabst, here are the caveats:

A research team spokesman, Dr. Morten Gronbaek of Denmark's National Institute of Public Health, says the benefits of alcohol don't kick in until you're at the age -- 45 to 50 -- where heart disease becomes an appreciable risk. "There's absolutely no proof of a preventative and protective effect before age 45," Gronbaek told Time. Further, alcohol consumption is related to an increase in breast cancer among women, and anyone who has a family history of alcoholism should steer clear no matter what their age.

The study imposed a limit of one drink a day for women and two for men. It did not distinguish among beer, wine and liquor. It calls for common sense in determining a "moderate" amount: a 12-oz. beer and a double martini are far different even though they fit in the same size glass.

I'm right in the middle of the right category... age 51, pedaling whenever possible, though I'm not real fast at it, and enjoy the occasional micro-brewed beer. Now, the task is to get the Sunday afternoon group ride to take a break at Vino's instead of Community Bakery... The veggie pizza has gotta be better for me than the pastry, anyway.

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