Category: health

Stiffer bikes for stronger bones and weight loss

I really like the vibration absorbing properties of my old steel bikes as well as my Specialized Roubaix. The Roubaix features Specialized’s “Zertz” inserts, which supposedly enhances the vibration damping qualities of my carbon fiber frame.

Zertz, apparently, is also making me fat. According to recent research, sitting on a vibrating platform can build bone mass and reduce fat. The vibrations apparently trigger stem cells into becoming bone instead of fat. The same principle is probably in action when you sit in a reclining chair, which tend to be very well padded to minimize vibrations.

To lose weight, then, you need more vibrations. Them hipster kids on the harsh-riding track bikes are so skinny, so maybe it’s time for me to trade in my comfy Roubaix for something like the ultra stiff Scott CR1. Maybe Fatty needs to ride bumpy singletrack on a fully rigid mountain bike.

Read or listen: Vibrations Shown to Build Bone, Reduce Fat.

Gasoline makes you fat

Santa Cruz Highway 1

Here’s an interesting study [PDF] from Washington University in St. Louis in which economist Charles Courtemanche demonstrates a causal relationship between the price of gasoline and obesity rates in the United States. According to this study, an additional $1 in real gasoline prices would reduce obesity in the U.S. by 15% after Â…five years, and that 13% of the rise in obesity between 1979 and 2004 can be attributed to falling real gas prices during this period. Courtemanche provides evidence that increased gas prices will result in more exercise for Americans as well as fewer restaurant visits. He writes:

If the price of gas rises, the cost of driving also rises, which may affect body weight in two ways. First, people may substitute from driving to walking, bicycling, or taking public transportation. Walking and bicycling are forms of exercise, which increase calories expended. If a person uses public transportation, such as subways, buses, trolleys, or rail services, the need to move to and from the public transit stops is likely to result in additional walking, again increasing calories expended. Second, since the opportunity cost of eating out at restaurants rises when the price of gas increases, people may substitute from eating out to preparing their own meals at home, which tend to be healthier. Income effects may also lead people to eat out less in an effort to save money to pay for the increased cost of gas.

Courtemanche notes that the reduced obesity rates can save 16,000 lives and $17 billion per year in health costs, partially offsetting the pain of paying higher gas prices.

Props to Tim Grahl for this news.

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