Today, thousands of RAGBRAI cyclists are speeding down the hill on the road by our house. RAGBRAI stands for Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. It is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. In its 47th year, RAGBRAI is the oldest, largest and longest recreational bicycle touring event in the world. It's a party on wheels, not a race. It started in 1973 as a six-day ride across the state of Iowa by two Des Moines Register columnists who invited a few friends along. This rolling celebration of Iowa now attracts over 10,000 participants from all 50 states and many foreign countries.
The RAGBRAI route averages 468 miles on flat and hilly terrain. It begins along Iowa’s western border on the Missouri River and ends along the eastern border on the Mississippi River. They change the route each year and this year our road is on the route.
Eight Iowa communities along the RAGBRAI route serve as “host” communities for overnight stays. This year the town I live in, Fairfield, Iowa, served as a host community. Our city spent months planning and organizing overnight accommodations, traffic flow, food and entertainment for the 10,000 cyclists and 10,000 more partiers. Hospitality and fun are the pillars of this celebration.
RAGBRAI cyclists can get creative. Amidst lots of Lycra you might see an old man wearing only a loincloth riding a unicycle and groups wearing tutus, kilts, and tuxedos. Banana Man rides a recumbent bicycle and wears a full foam yellow peel. Team Skunk is a large group that sometimes wears black T-shirts with a white stripe down the back. (Hopefully they don’t smell like skunks.) Team Gourmet travels with its own chef and has the week’s menu on the back of their jerseys. The Minneapolis Team Loon has loon heads on the front of their helmets and tail feathers on the back. Here’s the Nordic look:
My husband, Tim, hopped on his bike this morning and joined the thousands of cyclists passing by on the road by our house. The group he happened to ride with for a few hours had “We are the Light Riders, the Riders of God” written on the back of their T-shirts. He fit right in. I love the scriptwriter of our lives.
For days, I had the premonition that I would help a cyclist. It turned out it was my better half that came to the rescue today when he was riding with the bikers. Handy-dandy Tim comes complete with tools. He saw a cyclist with his broken-down bike on the side of the road and stopped and repaired it for him. I like having two bodies, you can help more people. Along those lines I’ve heard people say, “Tim fixes things and Suzanne fixes people.” While I can’t take credit for anything, it’s a sweet thought.
I tried to find an antique bike to ride along with the RAGBRAI cyclists, a vintage chopper motorcycle-style kid’s Stingray bicycle with ape hanger handlebars and a banana seat or a rusty Schwinn with handlebar streamers, a bike horn and a basket full of flowers. I couldn’t find any with training wheels.
"Exercise is the magic pill," says Michael R. Bracko, EdD, FACSM, chairman of the American College of Sports Medicine's Consumer Information Committee. "Exercise can literally cure diseases like some forms of heart disease. Exercise has been implicated in helping people prevent or recover from some forms of cancer. Exercise helps people with arthritis. Exercise helps people prevent and reverse depression."
- In Scientific American, January 2019, Herman Pontzer says, "Recent advances in metabolomics have shown that exercising muscles releases hundreds of signaling molecules into the body, and we are only beginning to learn the full extent of their physiological reach. Endurance exercise reduces chronic inflammation, a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It lowers resting levels of the steroid hormones testosterone, estrogen and progesterone, which helps account for the reduced rate of reproductive cancers among adults who exercise regularly. Exercise may blunt the morning rising in cortisol, the stress hormone. It is known to reduce insulin insensitivity, the immediate mechanism behind type 2 diabetes, and help to shuttle glucose into muscle glycogen stores instead of fat. Regular exercise improves the effectiveness of our immune system to stave off infection, especially as we age. Even light activity, such as standing instead of sitting, causes muscles to produce enzymes that help to clear fat from circulating blood."
Excessive Sitting Is Lethal
According to Dr. Edward R.Laskowski, when you sit, you use less energy than you do when you stand or move. Research has linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns. They include obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome. Too much sitting overall and prolonged periods of sitting also seem to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
- There's too much research documenting the dangers of excessive sitting to list them all so I'll just mention one study that tracked the health of 123,000 Americans for 14 years. They discovered that men who sat six or more hours per day had 20% higher death rate than men who sat three hours or less. The death rate for women who sat six hours or more a day was 40% higher than women who sat for three hours or less.
Try a standing desk, get an adjustable monitor stand or improvise with a box or high table.
Put your computer screen and keyboard on a surface above a treadmill so you can move throughout the day.
Walk around while talking on the phone or watching television.
Drink lots of water and use a small coffee cup or glass so that your trips for refills will be more frequent.
- Change social norms. At the beginning of a meeting, explain you're going to periodically take standing breaks. Or better yet, walk with your colleagues for meetings.
I have some of my sweetest experiences when I'm walking. Read about them and some tips for experiencing what I call "Bliss in Motion" in my blog post My Feet Can Sing.
- Try what was mentioned in my I Wake Up Laughing blog post: set a timer to ring every half an hour. When it goes off, walk around and laugh for a few minutes. If it's not appropriate to laugh out loud, at least smile or quietly giggle. If you can't walk around, then wiggle and giggle.
- “Walking is great exercise,” says exercise physiologist Len Kravitz, PhD, of the University of New Mexico. “But if you always do the same walking workout, it may not keep you as fit as you’d like. You burn more calories and improved fitness faster when you surprise your body with a variety of workouts that include some higher intensity.” Whatever you do, make it enjoyable and experiment with various styles and types of exercise for greater overall strength, balance and flexibility. And don't forget to wiggle and giggle!
"For 25 years, I ate uncontrollably and I gained 100 pounds, which caused me great misery. I went to eating disorder clinics and support groups and did all the work suggested to no avail. After Suzanne put her attention on this, I haven't had any episodes of binge eating and it's been four months. It's a miracle!"
"I found the session to be very validating and empowering. I have been feeling more confident about moving forward in a new direction."
“Thank you for the last long distance healing. It was very encouraging. I have already lost 10 pounds."
"Whenever I receive distance healings from Suzanne, circumstances come together to support needed growth or bring unexpected improvements in my life. These transformations are a tremendous catalyst to help me create the life I desire."
I love getting Suzanne’s email newsletters and listening to the recordings, I feel like they always come just when I need a boost. Her work is so authentic and heartfelt, I trust her. She gave me some very good advice once and I didn’t take it because I thought I knew it all about the subject. Long story short, she was right and I suffered greatly for taking my own council. Thank you Suzanne for all you do!
Tony from Arizona
I like some of the tips you have in your blog posts. In this one, you suggest to at the beginning of a meeting explain to your colleagues you are going to periodically take standing breaks. Well, I tried this and it turns out that EVERYONE like the idea AND actually got up and moved around!
I like your sense of humor and I’m glad your encouraging people to sit less and exercise more— we become too sedentary and it’s affecting our health both physically and mentally.
I’m a cyclist and have done Ragbrai so it was fun to be reminded of the great time my wife and I had – I propose to her at the end!
I totally agree with you about the sitting thing.