Run to Stay Young

via NYTimes

Running may reverse aging in certain ways while walking does not, a noteworthy new study of active older people finds. The findings raise interesting questions about whether most of us need to pick up the pace of our workouts in order to gain the greatest benefit.

Walking is excellent exercise. No one disputes that idea. Older people who walk typically have a lower incidence of obesity, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes, and longer lifespans than people who are sedentary. For many years, in fact, physicians and scientists have used how far and fast someone can walk as a marker of health as people age.

But researchers and older people themselves also have noted that walking ability tends to decline with age. Older people whose primary exercise is walking often start walking more slowly and with greater difficulty as the years pass, fatiguing more easily.

Many of us probably would assume that this physical slowing is inevitable. And in past studies of aging walkers, physiologists have found that, almost invariably, their walking economy declines over time. That is, they begin using more energy with each step, which makes moving harder and more tiring.

But researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder and Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., began to wonder whether this slow decay of older people’s physical ease really is inexorable or if it might be slowed or reversed by other types of exercise and, in particular, by running.

Happily, Boulder has an unusually large population of highly active older people, so the scientists did not lack for potential research subjects. Putting the word out at gyms and among running and walking groups, they soon recruited 30 men and women in their mid- to late-60s or early 70s.

Fifteen of these volunteers walked at least three times a week for 30 minutes or more. The other 15 ran at least three times a week, again for 30 minutes or more. The runners’ pace varied, but most moved at a gentle jogging speed.

The scientists gathered all of the volunteers at the University of Colorado’s Locomotion Laboratory and had each runner and walker complete three brief sessions of walking at three different, steadily increasing speeds on specially equipped treadmills. The treadmills were designed to measure how the volunteers’ feet hit the ground, in order to assess their biomechanics.

The volunteers also wore masks that measured their oxygen intake, data that the researchers used to determine their basic walking economy.

As it turned out, the runners were better, more efficient walkers than the walkers. They required less energy to move at the same pace as the volunteers who only walked regularly.

In fact, when the researchers compared their older runners’ walking efficiency to that of young people, which had been measured in earlier experiments at the same lab, they found that 70-year-old runners had about the same walking efficiency as your typical sedentary college student. Old runners, it appeared, could walk with the pep of young people.

Older walkers, on the other hand, had about the same walking economy as people of the same age who were sedentary. In effect, walking did not prevent people from losing their ability to walk with ease.

More surprising to the researchers, the biomechanics of the runners and the walkers during walking were almost identical. Runners did not walk differently than regular walkers, in terms of how many steps they took or the length of their strides or other measures of the mechanics of their walking.

But something was different.

The researchers speculate that this difference resides deep within their volunteers’ muscle cells. Intense or prolonged aerobic exercise, such as running, is known to increase the number of mitochondria within muscle cells, said Justus Ortega, now an associate professor of kinesiology at Humboldt University, who led the study. Mitochondria help to provide energy for these cells. So more mitochondria allow people to move for longer periods of time with less effort, he said.

Runners also may have better coordination between their muscles than walkers do, Dr. Ortega said, meaning that fewer muscles need to contract during movement, resulting in less energy being used.

But whatever the reason, running definitely mitigated the otherwise substantial decline in walking economy that seems to occur with age, he said, a result that has implications beyond the physiology lab. If moving feels easier, he said, people tend to do more of it, improving their health and enhancing their lives in the process.

The good news for people who don’t currently run is that you may be able to start at any age and still benefit, Dr. Ortega said. “Quite a few of our volunteers hadn’t take up running until they were in their 60s,” he said.

And running itself may not even be needed. Any physically taxing activity likely would make you a more efficient physical machine, Dr. Ortega said. So maybe consider speeding up for a minute or so during your next walk, until your heart pounds and you pant a bit; ease off; then again pick up the pace. You will shave time from your walk and potentially decades from your body’s biological age.

EBike Kits

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Electric bicycles are fast, efficient and fun! And now you can convert your own bicycle into an electric bicycle with my e-bike kit!

This is from the Kickstarter author, NOT me Smile

For anyone who is just now stumbling upon this page, because the Kickstarter campaign is over, you will no longer be able to get the ebike kit I assembled here. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still build yourself an awesome ebike! There are many other options for sourcing a great quality kit to match your needs. I want to highlight my favorites here so that you can see a few other options for building an ebike in the future. They might not have the same low price as my kits, but each is worth it and you can find some even more powerful kits than what I offer.

Grin Technology (www.Ebikes.ca) – I might as well start with the best, and the best is Ebikes.ca thanks to their quality parts and their unmatched service. There is a consensus among the DIY ebike community that Ebikes.ca is essentially the high water mark of the industry, and the golden standard by which most other ebike suppliers are judged. Whether you need a small geared motor, a medium sized direct drive or a big powerful motor, they’ve got you covered. Ebikes.ca is also home of the Cycle Analyst, which is a great electric bicycle wattmeter and diagnostic tool that functions like an instrument panel for your ebike. Anyone looking for a quality North American parts supplier can find everything they need with Grin Technologies.

Electric Rider (www.ElectricRider.com) – Electric Rider is a great US company for someone who wants a powerful ebike. Between their geared and gearless kits, Electric Rider offers some of the most powerful ebike kits available for beginners and experienced ebike builders alike. Their service is also great, they have an amazing packing method to get your parts to you safely, and the quality of their kits is excellent. I recommend Electric Rider to those who are looking for a powerful ebike kit.

Hill Topper (www.electric-bike-kit.com) – The Hill Topper kit by Clean Republic is what you want if you’re looking for an affordable way to get into electric biking. Their kits are some of the most affordable options around. The downside is that they aren’t the most powerful kits out there. But that’s ok, because what they lack in raw power they easily make up for in price and ease of install/use. The different power levels they offer are adequate for most people, and it’s hard to beat their prices. I’d recommend going for a larger battery upgrade if you can swing it, as you’ll always wish you could get just a few more miles. The Hill Topper kit is also one of the easiest to install, making it one of the best kits for absolute beginners and those that don’t feel as confident with their ‘tech’ skills. A few basic tools and 20 minutes is all you need to install this kit on your bike.

EM3EV (EM3EV.com) – EM3EV has great quality mac motors, which are geared motors of a higher power level than most other geared motors. Their kits are excellent quality, but where they really shine are their batteries. These don’t come cheap, but you definitely get what you pay for. They use the highest quality cells and also build triangle shaped battery packs that fit perfectly in the front section of your bicycle frame. Shipping is from China, but the great customer service makes you feel like they are located in your own state. Also their shipping is very fair, especially compared to other Chinese companies that gouge on shipping costs. If you’re looking for a powerful geared motor or great quality batteries, check out EM3EV.com.

Falco E-motors (www.falcoemotors.com) – Falco is doing something innovative in the ebike industry with their 5-phase motors and great quality batteries. Falco is a little less well known on the retail sign but they come from a long line of great ebikes and ebike parts and have a proven track record of great quality and matching service. If you’re looking for a unique, worry free system that will work well for many years than you can’t skip Falco.

Ping Batteries (www.PingBattery.com) – Ping makes great lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries that have been proven to last many years. My first Ping battery was install on a bike with a motor that was over twice the rated power. Even at that abuse my battery was still going strong two years later when I sold the bike. Ping batteries are rated at 2,000 cycles and are worth every penny.

Ebay kits – Ebay kits can be hit or miss, and I’m including this here partially as a recommendation and partly as a warning. I’ve gotten some great deals by finding ebay kits, and I’ve also seem some garbage too. Some sellers are known to be reputable. For example, the seller Sun-Thing28 is known to sell good, reasonably priced batteries and the seller xcceries is a well known provider of good quality direct drive kits.

The important thing is to search around and look at many options before buying. Do your research to make sure you find a kit that is best suited for you. Some companies overcharge for parts that you can find cheaper elsewhere. I haven’t listed those companies. Any companies I’ve listed above are well worth their prices and have the customer support that you’d expect when you’re making an investment like this. There are some great options out there and I’m sure everyone can find an ebike kit perfect for their own needs.

Bicycle Shops in Portland

From PBOT, I was looking up a shop for someone, there is this list

  These shops offer bicycle sales and/or service.

  If you’d like to learn to repair your bike, check out this link.

  For a list of the shops that offer bicycle rentals, check out this link.

  To view a map of Portland which shows the location of these bike shops, click here (4.9 mb PDF)

* shops that specialize in e-bikes or offer electric-assist bicycles

Bicycle Shops in Portland

From PBOT, I was looking up a shop for someone, there is this list

  These shops offer bicycle sales and/or service.

  If you’d like to learn to repair your bike, check out this link.

  For a list of the shops that offer bicycle rentals, check out this link.

  To view a map of Portland which shows the location of these bike shops, click here (4.9 mb PDF)

* shops that specialize in e-bikes or offer electric-assist bicycles