You’re unique. You’re similar to other riders in some ways and differ in other ways. In this series of Experiment of One columns I’m giving you a number of different anti-aging columns from which you can read the ones most applicable to the unique you.
The first three columns were about physical and exercise factors. This week I present equally important factors in how well you age: good nutrition, equipment and your mental attitude. To recap:
- Anti-Aging: Experiment of One, pt. 1 covered the physiological effects of aging, research on exercise and aging, training, intensity, learning from mistakes, and losing and regaining fitness.
- Anti-Aging: Experiment of One, pt. 2 covered how to gauge your athletic maturity, how to improve your athletic maturity and the four pillars of slowing aging: 1) Consistency, 2) Intensity, 3) Recovery and 4) Enjoyment.
- Anti-Aging: Experiment of One, pt 3. covered different ways of gauging how old you really are — how old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? Then I covered the American College of Sports Medicine recommendations for the following types of exercise:
- Aerobic and high intensity aerobic exercise
- Muscle strength training
- Balance activities
- Flexibility exercise
- Weight bearing exercise
“The bicycle is the most civilised conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.” — Iris Murdoch, Irish author
“One should eat to live, not live to eat.” – Benjamin Franklin
For longevity and good health and for effective and enjoyable cycling, good nutrition is just as important as physical activities. For example a study published in the journal Circulation concludes people who eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day have a 12 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, 10 percent lower risk of death from cancer and 35 percent lower risk of death from respiratory disease than people who eat just two servings a day.
This column covers the micronutrients: vitamins and minerals. I explain why micronutrients are important and discuss the four high priority ones: calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Then I report on which electrolytes you really need.
“Good nutrition and vitamins do not directly cure disease; the body does. You provide the raw materials and the inborn wisdom of your body makes the repairs.” – Andrew W. Saul, M.S., Ph.D.
Good nutrition makes a big difference in how you age. Myths abound on the internet and television. I debunk seven myths including the belief that exercising at low intensity burns more fat and this helps with weight loss, the paleo diet which is relatively high in meat, and the ketogenic diet, which is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet.
“When you start eating foods without labels, you no longer need to count calories.” – Amanda Kraft, Canadian at the College of Dietitians in Toronto, Ontario
Being even slightly overweight can increase your risk of dying prematurely by six percent and increases the risk by 73% for an obese person. I describe the problems with the Body Mass Index (BMI). I then discuss how your metabolic rate of calories burned changes over time. Finally, I report on several studies that found our bodies tend to automatically compensate for at least a quarter of the calories we expend during exercise.
“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring.” – Humorously misattributed to Desmond Tutu
For more get my eBook Healthy Nutrition Past 50 I address the vital role that healthy nutrition plays in helping you stay active, energetic, happy and fulfilled into your 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond.
“You are one ride away from a good mood.” — Sarah Bentley, British cyclist
A Finish study found life expectancy increased if a person thought the amount of stress is normal, i.e., about the same amount of stress as what other people typically experience. Having more or less stress than that, on the other hand, reduced life expectancy.
“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.” – James E. Starrs, American professor of law and a professor of forensic science.
Motivation starts with thinking about why you ride. Then use this understanding to figure out what works to keep you motivated. The fun and challenge of riding with others is a great motivator. For many people a structure is very helpful for motivation. Different types of structures work for different people. E.g., formal goals, a weekly schedule, creating accountability.
An RBR reader used mental skills to master a challenging climb: a new riding strategy, the mental skill of pacing, changed motivation, changed belief in what’s possible, and increased confidence.
“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” – Arthur Conan Doyle
A client used four mental skills to improve his time trial performance: focus, confidence, pacing and pain management.
“To me, it doesn’t matter whether it’s raining or the sun is shining or whatever: as long as I’m riding a bike I know I’m the luckiest guy in the world.” – Mark Cavendish, British pro racer
I discuss several theories of what causes fatigue and my conclusion it’s mental — perceived exertion.
Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record of 714 home runs and held that record for 30 years. His mental skills were one of the keys to his success.
“Baseball is 90 per cent mental. The other half is physical.”– Yogi Berra, 18 time Major League Baseball All-Star
I discuss how to set meaningful goals, using your athletic maturity to help set appropriate goals and the importance of adapting your goals as circumstances change.
My eBook Gaining a Mental Edge: Using Sports Psychology to Improve Your Cycling is divided into six chapters of progressive lessons on relaxation, focus, using powerful thoughts and images, building confidence and managing anxiety, creating a plan and visualizing it, riding the ride and dealing pain during the ride. Gaining a Mental Edge: Using Sports Psychology to Improve Your Cycling is only $4.99.
As an experiment of one it’s important to experiment with many factors. I’ve written two columns to help you:
My eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process has individual chapters on each of the types of exercise the American College of Sports Medicine recommends: cardiovascular both endurance and intensity; upper, lower, and core strength; weight-bearing, flexibility and balance. I include interviews with Gabe Mirkin (recommendations from an M.D.) Jim Langley (importance of goals), Andy Pruitt (importance of working on your skeleton, posture, balance, muscle mass), Muffy Ritz (recommended activities for older people, especially women), Malcolm Fraser (recommendations from an M.D.), Fred Matheny (importance of strength training), Elizabeth Wicks (motivation) and five other male and female riders ages 55 to 83. Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process incorporates the latest research and most of it is new material not published in my previous eArticles on cycling past 50, 60 and beyond. It’s your comprehensive guide to continuing to ride well into your 80s and even your 90s. The 106-page eBook Anti-Aging: 12 Ways You Can Slow the Aging Process is available for $14.99.
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written over 40 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John’s full bio.