30 days of biking: Heart of a lion, lungs of a mouse

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Here’s the special parking area set aside for bicyclists at the health clinic I visit for my annual check-up.

Even though they’re in the business of improving health, they could certainly do more for those who try to maintain a healthy lifestyle by bicycling.

During my visit, my doctor congratulated me on my low blood pressure and pulse, weight in the normal range, and strong-sounding heart — all results of regular exercise.

Everything was great, until I took a spirometry test, which measures the volume and speed of air that can be inhaled and exhaled.


I took a deep breath and blew into the machine three times. The results showed I had the lung function of an 84-year-old man. Yikes!

I’ve suffered from asthma my whole life and thought I was keeping it in check. Apparently not. My doctor told me that I’m probably so accustomed to being short of breath that I think it’s normal.

Yes. I huff and puff when I’m biking uphill. I thought everyone did. Apparently, my huffing and puffing is more like that of someone born in 1928.

We talked about some medication and made an appointment for later. Think how I’d improve as a cyclist if I reduced the virtual age of my lungs by 20 or 30 years.

Then I lugged my aged lungs outside to my bicycle and considered where I could attach an oxygen tank for the ride home.

(BTW… Lance Armstrong has lung capacity of 7 liters; healthy male is 6 liters, Ryder Hesjedal is 8.3 liters.

29 days

There’s more bad news. I was reminded yesterday just how hard it is to complete 30 Days of Biking in April.

Our daughter came down with stomach flu on Wednesday so I stayed home with her all day. No chance for a bike ride until late. I hadn’t eaten, it was raining — hard — and I didn’t see the point in going around the block just to get a ride in.

Still, 24 straight days of bike riding is probably a record-breaking stretch for me. The round-trip ride to the clinic was 8 miles today. Let’s see if I can finish the rest of the month.

30 Days of Biking

Total days — 25/26

Total miles — 387

Permanent link to this article: https://www.bikingbis.com/2012/04/26/30-days-of-biking-heart-of-a-lion/


    • Rick on May 24, 2012 at 12:18 pm
    • Reply

    Woah! You ride a bike regularly and you still had the lungs of an 84 year old? So bike riding may have improved your lung capacity from what it would have been had you not rode – but riding still could not trump asthma. Good thing to know about in case I ride with someone who has asthma as well. Good luck with medications. Hope they help you up the hills.


    1. Crazy, isn’t it? I’ve been using a prescription inhaler twice a day, and I feel that my lungs are improving. But they’re still not where I’d like them to be. Going back to the doc next month for a follow-up exam.

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