Daily Mail warns MAMILs to step away from the bike for their health's sake

Equally, step away from the Daily Mail to avoid confusing messages about exercise and health

by Sarah Barth   November 17, 2013  

Woodcote CX - MAMILs in the mud

MAMILs: Step away from the bicycle - it could be harming you!

That’s the message from the Daily Mail, anyway, who published a story this week stating that although men aged between 35 and 44 were buying bikes in their droves, the high intensity exercise they were embarking on could have a serious impact on their cardiovascular health.

Of course, the Daily Mail is notorious for its health scare stories; one only has to glance at the Daily Mail’s A-Z of Things That Give You Cancer to be aware of that, and in its inimitable style has already published a number of contradictory articles including ‘Exercise 'beats drugs for heart and stroke patients': Study finds prescribing physical activity could revolutionise patients' health’, ‘Why having a heart attack while you're doing exercise is less likely to kill than if you're a couch potato’, ‘Excess exercise 'hurts the heart' and cause dangerous long-term harm, say scientists’ and ‘A stroll can cut risk of heart disease by half’.

But despite the paper’s inability to decide whether exercise is good for your heart or not, are there any lessons to be taken from the impressive array of experts consulted for their piece?

Eddie Chaloner, a consultant vascular surgeon at Lewisham Hospital, South-East London told the paper that the risk of stroke in unconditioned, new athletes, is high - something that the BBC presenter Andrew Marr discovered to his cost when he took up high-intensity rowing in middle age.

“I see a lot of middle-aged men in my clinic who have taken up excessive exercise because they have hit 40,' said Mr Chaloner. 'They have panicked because they have put on weight or got high blood pressure and may have been referred to me for further investigations.

“But people don't realise that, aside from the risk of a heart attack, taking up exercise this way can actually lead to heart problems. Excessive exercise in middle-aged men can trigger atrial fibrillation - a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

“One in five strokes is caused by this - and the kind of stroke caused by atrial fibrillation is more likely to be fatal.”

Cycling could be particularly risky, apparently. Professor Tony Kochhar, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at South London Healthcare NHS Trust told the paper.

“Cycling, for example, can be a particular problem for the hips. The body is no longer designed to deliver the way it could in our youth, so we have to adapt.”

But there’s hope for those who love to get out on their bike.

Hugh Montgomery, professor of intensive care medicine and director of the Institute for Human Health and Performance at University College, London, told the paper: “Exercise can help reduce the risk of so many health conditions from obesity and depression to diabetes and bowel cancer - which is the second most likely disease after heart disease to kill middle-aged men.”

Studies also found improvements in men’s sex lives and metal agility when they took part in exercise, leading the controversial newspaper to suggest some fairly sensible routes into exercise - for those who feel it’s worth the risk.

According to the Daily Mail: How to get into exercise

It's advisable to find out  if you are already at an increased risk of heart disease through diabetes or high blood pressure - both of which can be assessed through blood tests organised by your GP.

Tell your doctor of any family history of heart disease and stroke. It's then important to start by spending several weeks simply becoming more active during the day, perhaps by using the stairs or walking to the shops, says John Dearing, a sports injury surgeon at Carrick Glen Hospital in Ayr.  

After that, build up your fitness level slowly, perhaps walking 20 to 40 minutes, three times a week.

'You should walk, cycle or whatever you choose to do with enough exertion to become mildly breathless, but you should still be able to talk in sentences,' adds Professor Montgomery.

It's not just your heart you need to protect. Warming up is very important to avoid muscle strain - this should take up about 10 per cent of the time of your session, says John Miles, the medical head at Cardiff Blues rugby club.

This could include basic movements such as lunges, squats and stretches for the lower limb muscles.

Once you feel as if fitness has improved, and you want to start speeding up then do this gradually.

Dr Dearing adds: 'If you take up, say, jogging, start by doing ten to 15 minutes. If you manage that without a problem, then do 20 minutes the following day.'

Establish distance before you think about speed.

Once you can jog a mile-and-a-half, you can vary your run with ten seconds of sprinting, followed by slowing down for a minute and then repeating three times - a system known as Fartlek training (from the Swedish for 'speed play', it means varying exercise with periods of intensity).

It's important to keep note of any symptoms that could suggest a strain on your cardiovascular system.

Dr Thomas warns: 'If you have any chest pain or discomfort when exercising, you must get it checked out.

'Heart pain occurs as a crushing pain across the chest, not just on the left side as people mistakenly think. Nausea and breathlessness when exercising can also be a sign of heart issues.'

Unfortunately, there is no cast-iron guarantee that your heart will be fine. But as Dr Dearing points out: 'Increasing physical activity has huge benefits - and some exercise is always better than none.

'But take a sensible approach, otherwise you run the risk of doing more harm than good.'

44 user comments

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I was quite smug. At age sixty six I could cycle fifty miles in a day and climb most hills, rarely having to go down to the ‘Granny Gear’ on my hybrid bike. Not exactly light weight with the decent lock, comprehensive tool kit, spare tube, small first aid kit, water bottle, extra bottle of energy drink, lightweight jacket and waterproof jacket, just in case it rains.

I had a heart attack last Sunday after riding just 500 yards. I had been getting some chest pains for a week or two and whilst waiting for tests my GP advised me to ring 999 if the pains persisted after cycling. I did as he said. One artery had narrowing and they fixed me up with a stent. The damage was minimal.

They let me out of hospital in just 24 hours because of my general fitness, e.g. resting pulse rate of mid fifties. I’m convinced the regular cycling to work and in retirement taking any opportunity to use my bike to the local shops and local longer rides was responsible for surviving the attack.
Smile

Mixte Rider

posted by adriank999 [57 posts]
17th November 2013 - 15:10

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More to the point, studies show that engaging in exercise leads to an improvement in men's sex life...?

Sod this reading lark, I'm off out for a ride!

ragtimecyclist's picture

posted by ragtimecyclist [115 posts]
17th November 2013 - 17:21

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Well, using a bike might help e.g. to get out of Daily Mail distribution area:

http://innercitymobility.blogspot.de/2013/10/c-like-country-side.html

Guess, that is what they are afraid of!

posted by Dr. Ko [108 posts]
17th November 2013 - 17:47

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What a complete load of rubbish, as usual from this rag that likes to call itself a newspaper ...

posted by Karbon Kev [653 posts]
17th November 2013 - 17:53

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Read the Daily Mail and give your brain a complete rest.

I'm a human being, God damn it! My life has value. I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.

posted by Carl [134 posts]
17th November 2013 - 18:14

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After wading through the sensationalism and general daily mail tripe they have got a point, some of the chaps you see out there mid 50's a bit fat dressed up in Garmin/Strava, Flash Bike, Rapha and Assos turning a beetroot shade of purple as they weave wildly up the hills, would probably be a bit better off with a Hybrid bike and getting some gentler rides in for a year or so.

I think basically all the article is saying is exercise, bit if you've never done anything before work up gently, especially if you're in a 'higher risk' category like a middle aged male who's got a few pounds of excess.

All fairly sensible stuff, which is rather surprising considering the publication.

William Black's picture

posted by William Black [196 posts]
17th November 2013 - 18:34

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I was going to call them a cunch of bunts but that trivialises and humourises the insult, something they don't deserve, so sorry for the sweariness but.......

They're a bunch of cunts.

posted by allez neg [411 posts]
17th November 2013 - 19:14

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You can crack on with your ride. I'm off for a shag Big Grin

posted by allez neg [411 posts]
17th November 2013 - 19:17

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Meant as a reply to ragtime....

posted by allez neg [411 posts]
17th November 2013 - 19:18

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The only way the Daily Mail causes me to worry about my health when I'm riding my bike is the knowledge that some of the drivers I'm sharing the road with read it

Northernbike's picture

posted by Northernbike [87 posts]
17th November 2013 - 19:32

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Rule #5

posted by lookmanohands [79 posts]
17th November 2013 - 20:31

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Putting the heading of "News" relating to anything from the Daily Mail must be an oxymoron.

Rupert

posted by Rupert49 [38 posts]
17th November 2013 - 21:19

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The Mail prints this kind of thing to get page view revenue. If you don't like what the Mail prints then don't buy it and don't click on any links. They will only change if revenue goes down.

posted by dunnoh [147 posts]
17th November 2013 - 21:49

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banzicyclist2 wrote:
I'd rather go out in a blaze of glory, 50mph blasting down one of the Lake District's passes than as a fat cough potatoe eating a big Mac.

When the grim reaper comes calling it's time to go and there's nothing you can do about it , so stop worrying.

The Grim Reaper better be laying down some heavy V with some wholesale commitment to Rule 10 because I'm not leaving easily!

Tripod16

posted by Tripod16 [109 posts]
17th November 2013 - 21:51

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Er.... This article is more sensationalist than the DM's.

Yes, there is excessive use of 'MAMIL' to categorise this group, and a risk of getting the wrong impression if you only read the headline, but once you read the article it makes some valid, reasonable points.

But I'm sorry if that is such an unpalatable idea for most Road CC'ers!

posted by 700c [486 posts]
17th November 2013 - 22:26

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700c wrote:
But I'm sorry if that is such an unpalatable idea for most Road CC'ers!

Why read the actual article when you can just bash the Daily Mail*.

*Bashing the Daily Mail may not necessarily be a bad thing.

William Black's picture

posted by William Black [196 posts]
17th November 2013 - 22:28

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Yawn The "Daily Fail" more Like it. Done believe this Fascist Nazi Newspaper whatever it says. We all know this is the paper that pretends to be a decent newspaper!

posted by CyclingDan [39 posts]
17th November 2013 - 22:38

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CyclingDan wrote:
Yawn The "Daily Fail" more Like it. Done believe this Fascist Nazi Newspaper whatever it says. We all know this is the paper that pretends to be a decent newspaper!

Have you read the article?

William Black's picture

posted by William Black [196 posts]
17th November 2013 - 22:39

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Unfit people shouldn't push it too hard. That's the truth. I'm past 50 but I'm in better shape than most of the guys in their 20s I work with and yep, I feel a bit smug about that and I reckon I'm not alone with that either.

The Daily Mail is very useful and cheap for lighting fires. Now the cold weather is here I'll need to light the open fire probably. The local paper is cheaper too but I actually get some news value from that.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1963 posts]
17th November 2013 - 22:52

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Of course it could have been worse - suppose they discovered that Ralph Miliband was a cyclist.

posted by leqin [23 posts]
18th November 2013 - 11:33

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The Daily Mail is a pantomime act for sure. They deliberately prey upon people's moral outrage and to some extent ignorance. They are myopic and judgemental, just so that people can go 'oooh', 'aaahh', 'boo' and 'hiss'.

As people have pointed out the article does have some truth to it. The problem comes when it is read by the ill-informed.

Ironically I found that the comment responses on the DM were much more sympathetic to cyclists when they reported one of the London road deaths than that of the Guardian, which surprised me. I was expecting hate and vitriol spewed indescriminantly at 'Lycra louts' by DM readers, but actually it was the Guardian reading hipster liberals (who for my mind would he fixie riding Rapha lovers) extolling the lines about RLJs and breaking the law.

Just goes to show, you never can tell.....

posted by Colin Peyresourde [978 posts]
18th November 2013 - 12:55

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Not sure why they bothered publishing this in the Daily Mail. Their average reader only tends to partake in 'Princess Diana walkathons' and chasing anything apart from White/Middle class folk out of the country.

Sure, doing too much too soon is going to be bad for anyone in any cardiovascular activity. That is why I only bludgeon to death one daily mail reader a week, its hard work.

posted by Simmo72 [215 posts]
18th November 2013 - 13:28

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sounds like they actually gave good advice but just wrote it in a manner that was more likely to scare people than to be taken seriously.

posted by jarredscycling [436 posts]
18th November 2013 - 16:52

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The article seemed confused and confusing - so its not surprising the comments here (both attacking and defending the Mail) are also a bit confused!

I think its because the Mail has to spin everything to pander to its readership's many-and-varied prejudices, even if there's something factual and reasonable in there somewhere.

I mean, for example, the bit about the study of extreme runners had nothing to do with unfit middle-aged people over doing it without easing into it, its about (mostly quite fit) people who do very extreme exercise levels over a long period possibly ending up slightly worse-off than those who do only moderate exercise. That's a different issue.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [516 posts]
18th November 2013 - 18:14

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Also...I thought what happened to Andrew Marr was more about bad technique on the rowing machine, leading to an actual physical injury (tearing an artery or something) causing a stroke? Rather than just 'unaccustomed over-exertion' per se?

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [516 posts]
18th November 2013 - 18:25

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Badly scripted at best. Why wouldn't anyone want to carry on cycling and keep fit, the article would only confuse people possibly.
The point is serious enough to give it some consideration though. Going for a balls out full pelt blast on your Pinarello up the Honistor Pass on day one would be a bit foolish....best break yourself in easy for a month.
I can remember going out on my road bike five years ago, after a somewhat exercise free & restful few years, for 15 miles took me 20 minutes to recover prone on the living room floor. Now a days fifty miles i just get home and cook the kids their dinner in the cycling clobber!

posted by Guyz2010 [278 posts]
18th November 2013 - 18:29

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adriank999 wrote:
I was quite smug. At age sixty six I could cycle fifty miles in a day and climb most hills, rarely having to go down to the ‘Granny Gear’ on my hybrid bike. Not exactly light weight with the decent lock, comprehensive tool kit, spare tube, small first aid kit, water bottle, extra bottle of energy drink, lightweight jacket and waterproof jacket, just in case it rains.

I had a heart attack last Sunday after riding just 500 yards. I had been getting some chest pains for a week or two and whilst waiting for tests my GP advised me to ring 999 if the pains persisted after cycling. I did as he said. One artery had narrowing and they fixed me up with a stent. The damage was minimal.

They let me out of hospital in just 24 hours because of my general fitness, e.g. resting pulse rate of mid fifties. I’m convinced the regular cycling to work and in retirement taking any opportunity to use my bike to the local shops and local longer rides was responsible for surviving the attack.
Smile

Glad to read that you are on the mend. I hope you are back out on the bike soon.

Ah! Condor

posted by Bedfordshire Clanger [304 posts]
18th November 2013 - 22:13

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Ditto. Good to hear Adrian.

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [935 posts]
19th November 2013 - 0:35

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The message in this may be that cycling doesn't have to be TDF re-enactments and Z5 efforts. Just go for a ride for the sake of getting out and enjoying it. That's good advice for new riders right?

posted by james-o [178 posts]
20th November 2013 - 8:37

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It's easy to chuckle a bit at mamils slowly plodding up hills top to toe in Rapha aboard their Dogmas and S-Works but actually it may be beneficial in various ways - isn't James Murdoch big into cycling? Its not a massive leap to imagine that the more cyclists (mamil or not) with influence in the media will help with putting a more positive spin on cycling.

I'm sure I overtook the dude that made 4 weddings and a funeral and all the other romcoms in this years L2B too. He was in full replica Sky kit with his name on the top tube. Maybe we can look forward to seeing cycling becoming normalised or even desirable in the next Curtis film. Just hopefully not Hugh Grant in lycra.

posted by allez neg [411 posts]
20th November 2013 - 17:05

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