I’ve heard and read a lot of stupid stuff over the years but my new doctor laid one on me that I hadn’t heard before – that the health risks outweigh the benefits of extreme athletics. A friend of mine doubled down on that in a comment by sharing that she’d heard that not only do the risks outweigh the benefits, there are no benefits to exercising the way I choose to.
“Incredulous” is the best word that fits, for me. Maybe “nuts” would be for anyone who actually believes as some doctors do.
I am slim enough to be able to complain about five extra pounds, and actually mean it. I am fit enough to keep up with my kids and teach them sports by doing, not by trying to explain from the sideline. I have a zest for life that the vast majority of the world would be jealous of…. because I get to play for an hour a day and a few more on the weekends.
I ride with my wife, spending hours on the road together throughout the week. The fun we have cycling together passes on through every moment we spend together. We laugh together like we used to when we were just kids dating. I no longer seek an escape from life through drugs or alcohol, I have a Twelve Step Program that I work diligently, and my bikes. Either one alone leaves something to be desired. Together, I feel like I’ve won the lotto. Every day I wake up.
No benefit indeed.
Life is short, bikes are cool, and cycling is fun – and anyone who would put out the garbage that there is no benefit to cycling ten or twelve hours a week, when done wisely, is a quack. Better, with a straight face, look at some poor, obese person who’s body is shutting down due to complications from diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and poor circulation then tell me there’s no benefit to riding a bike twelve hours a week. How about someone who can’t leave their house because they’re too fat? Someone who can’t even get out of bed?
The notion there is no benefit to a good bike ride is simply freaking nuts. The idea that the risks outweigh the benefits is right behind it.
I wonder if the issue here isn’t about the definition of extreme, though. While many could view what I do as extreme, mainly by duration of a weekend ride or perhaps by speed (with a fair bit of ignorance, I might add – I may be fast against the average Joe, but I am not fast against real speed), I find it hard to classify me as “extreme”. Dedicated? Absolutely, but extreme? Hardly.
The real issue here is laziness. Labeling a fit cyclist or runner as “extreme” is lazy. It’s measuring a fit person against a horrendously unfit populous to come up with an average that unfairly slants against a fit person. Any doctor who would stoop to such a label for a fit person in their late 40’s who is so healthy they don’t take one prescriptive medication to correct a lack of fitness, is off (even if I would view the label as congratulatory anyway).
Life is about quality, and while I would definitely like some longevity, I wouldn’t trade my happiness for an extra ten years on the back of 85, 90 or 100.
Now, if you would excuse me, I have a hundred miles to ride. Chuckle.