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Does bike commuting vs recreation confer the exact same physiologic benefits?

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Does bike commuting vs recreation confer the exact same physiologic benefits?

Old 09-27-22, 12:08 PM
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burritos
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Does bike commuting vs recreation confer the exact same physiologic benefits?

Meaning if you bike the same exact route for fun vs doing it for to get to work do you get the same health benefit? Does the state of mind, perceived goals, and achievement of goals affect brain hormones/neurotransmitter that might affect physiology differently? Take for an extreme example, does running away from a bear and then sprinting for fun affect you differently? You'll never forget that bear thingy that's for sure.

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Old 09-27-22, 02:56 PM
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Interesting question, though I'm never as stressed about going to or from work as I am about outriding a dog (or a pack of 'em). I've only ever seen a bear in front of me on a bike, and I stopped and encouraged him to go back into the woods.
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Old 09-27-22, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by burritos View Post
Meaning if you bike the same exact route for fun vs doing it for to get to work do you get the same health benefit? Does the state of mind, perceived goals, and achievement of goals affect brain hormones/neurotransmitter that might affect physiology differently? Take for an extreme example, does running away from a bear and then sprinting for fun affect you differently? You'll never forget that bear thingy that's for sure.
People who commute by bike have a better attitude towards work than people who commute by car. So the Bear analogy doesn't apply to bicycle commuters.
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Old 09-27-22, 03:27 PM
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I commute and on days I don't I ride similar miles in various different directions. It feels the same to me, but I find any ride relaxing, which is why I do the same miles when I don't have to.
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Old 09-27-22, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Interesting question, though I'm never as stressed about going to or from work as I am about outriding a dog (or a pack of 'em). I've only ever seen a bear in front of me on a bike, and I stopped and encouraged him to go back into the woods.
Sorry, my bad. I didn't mean that commuting was equivalent to encountering a bear. I was just trying to demonstrate that physical activities based on context can have entirely different cognitive responses which may result in different physiologies which may result in different health outcomes. Personally when I start my bike commute, it always feels like I'm going out hunting for resources and the traffic is like an opponent presenting as an obstacle to my loot.
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Old 09-27-22, 04:53 PM
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My commute is fairly short (4 miles, one way) so if I just ride to work directly, there really isn't a huge fitness benefit. However, many (most?) of the days I ride to work, I'll use one of the legs for training purposes, such as doing intervals, or joining a group ride, or even just doing a long unstructured detour. That's the beauty of the bike, that it can achieve multiple purposes.

But to answer your question directly: I have no idea.
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Old 09-27-22, 05:28 PM
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My commute is 20 km one-way, and while I love it most days, it does feel like a chore when I'm feeling tired or when the weather is bad. I don't push as hard as when I am on a rec ride. Plus, 20 km is very short for a rec ride for me. I'd not be fully satisfied unless it's at least 2 hours long. So, physiologically, it's easier. But perhaps psychologically it is tougher.
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Old 09-27-22, 05:44 PM
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I'll ask my wife, she's a psychologist (MFT) and probably will have a hot take
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Old 09-27-22, 09:36 PM
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Her take is that the bear chase gets you more exercise because the fight or flight response makes you go harder than you could have of your own initiative. She mentioned adrenaline and cortisol but maybe only to show her bona fides. No difference for work vs play
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Old 09-27-22, 09:38 PM
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I would expect there to be a difference for most people: if you're commuting you want to limit exertion and pick an efficient route, but for recreational riding we seek out big climbs, beautiful places, challenging trails, etc. and are much more likely to push our athletic limits to go faster and farther. Even riding the exact same route, think about how different it feels to ride a route at a steady pace versus riding the same stretch to do structured interval training - even if the setting is identical, the physiological demands can be quite different.
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Old 09-28-22, 01:01 AM
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I expect the difference would be minimal, if at all. But perhaps looking at athelers, especially those that contine to perform at higher levels after retirement might provide an answer. But, it is a select sample which may be unique to begin with.

you might want to try to answer the question for yourself. Research some good measurements like blood pressure and pulse that maybe tied to longevity. Set a baseline for a few weeks for yourself. Then add some level of aerobic exercise to your routine and see if/how much the vitals selected changed. Then unfortunately, you will need to guess if you will really be impacted by the change.

I am headed to the woods to find a bear. Seriously, I think you posed a good question.
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Old 09-28-22, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
Interesting question, though I'm never as stressed about going to or from work as I am about outriding a dog (or a pack of 'em). I've only ever seen a bear in front of me on a bike, and I stopped and encouraged him to go back into the woods.
What kind of bike was the bear riding?
gm
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Old 10-08-22, 10:20 AM
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This is an interesting question and would be a great bit of doctoral research. I think it would be good to cover a large number of people just to increase the strength of the data.
We'd have to have three groups, commuters, recreational riders, and drivers/public transit riders (control). Each commuter would have a corresponding rec rider who would ride the same route as the commuter, but NOT on a day they were working. The study would probably be done only 2 - 3 days per week, since the rec riders may only have the ability to take the route on weekends. Consequently, to accurately measure the physiological impact, the commuter would have to reduce their commute to the same number of days as the rec riders. A small study of about 50 per cohort would provide enough data to give it some weight.
Cortisol levels, BP, pulse, could be measured before and after ever ride for every person. Qualitative data could be collected by having all of the participants each answer a standardized survey after their particular activity.
It's a great question to ask and when measured against the control, it could provide more ammunition for bicycle advocacy.
Personally, I prefer commuting to work on a bike because it prepares me for the day (I'm a mental health therapist in one of the larger medical centers in Philly) and helps me to leave it behind when I'm done. This past week was incredibly busy and with the remnants of a tropical storm over us for 4 days, I made the 10-mile commute to work in the car because of parts of my route being flooded or at risk of flooding, and awful Philly drivers whose technique doesn't improve in the rain.
Yesterday, finally got to ride to work and I didn't feel exhausted like the previous days in the week. I felt energized and much more mentally prepared for my job in spite of not getting enough sleep during the prior days, and feeling like I was dragging myself around with only willpower, not real energy.
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Old 10-08-22, 10:17 PM
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Where are you going to source the bears?
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Old 10-09-22, 06:06 AM
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Originally Posted by burritos View Post
Does the state of mind, perceived goals, and achievement of goals affect brain hormones/neurotransmitter that might affect physiology differently?
IOW, does doing the same amount of exercise while in a happy frame of mind versus a determined/"work" frame of mind provide benefits above that of the other? I would suggest it certainly doesn't include some of the "bad" stress-related components of the other. (In the sense that stress and worry, itself, can induce greatly-increased blood pressure in an otherwise happy person. I know of a couple people like this. They can work out for a couple of hours, but the moment they stress about things during that workout their BP goes sideways.)

I suspect the same basic effects could be measured for general mindset/outlook distinctions.

I know that from my hard distance running, back in the day, it was clear that runs where I deliberately "let go" and didn't have much of a plan for the route or level of effort turns out to be the runs where I felt best during and after the run. Wasn't scientifically done, but it sure seemed a cause-and-effect thing to me. I felt better, more relaxed, fresher and more alert when going at such runs with a "better" mindset throughout ... even when the runs turned out to be at a higher performance level than other runs.

With swimming, years ago, competitions often resulted in better performance when I deliberately disregarded my concerns and worries, instead focusing on "letting go" and "relaxing" prior to and during hard swims. Perhaps it was simply a matter of allowing the body to do what it knew how to do, without unintentionally constraining the muscle movements and breathing with "bad mindset" (stress).

That being said, I certainly feel better when just heading out to "smell the roses," even if I end up pushing the exercise a bit. Whether commuting or on a training ride or whatever.
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Old 10-10-22, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
IOW, does doing the same amount of exercise while in a happy frame of mind versus a determined/"work" frame of mind provide benefits above that of the other? I would suggest it certainly doesn't include some of the "bad" stress-related components of the other. (In the sense that stress and worry, itself, can induce greatly-increased blood pressure in an otherwise happy person. I know of a couple people like this. They can work out for a couple of hours, but the moment they stress about things during that workout their BP goes sideways.)

I suspect the same basic effects could be measured for general mindset/outlook distinctions.

I know that from my hard distance running, back in the day, it was clear that runs where I deliberately "let go" and didn't have much of a plan for the route or level of effort turns out to be the runs where I felt best during and after the run. Wasn't scientifically done, but it sure seemed a cause-and-effect thing to me. I felt better, more relaxed, fresher and more alert when going at such runs with a "better" mindset throughout ... even when the runs turned out to be at a higher performance level than other runs.

With swimming, years ago, competitions often resulted in better performance when I deliberately disregarded my concerns and worries, instead focusing on "letting go" and "relaxing" prior to and during hard swims. Perhaps it was simply a matter of allowing the body to do what it knew how to do, without unintentionally constraining the muscle movements and breathing with "bad mindset" (stress).

That being said, I certainly feel better when just heading out to "smell the roses," even if I end up pushing the exercise a bit. Whether commuting or on a training ride or whatever.
Yes. No study will be done anytime soon. But walking for fun and then walking to hunt for ruminants for the tribe are 2 completely different mindsets. There are reasons why nature wants you to do both, but itís more important to bring home the bacon.
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