Comment of the Week: Biking, fitness and weight loss are three different things

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East Sunday Parkways-33

Just a good time.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

There are lots of reasons to have a great time on a bike. Weight loss can sometimes be one of them, but shouldn’t have to be.

So how is it that so many messages about biking get caught up in messages about body type?

That’s the argument from BikePortland reader Anne Hawley, responding to a conversation started by Vancouver, B.C., writer Cecily Walker about whether active transportation advocacy groups should avoid “the ‘obesity’ scare word” when talking up biking and walking.

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Lifestyle column: You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone

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Lifestyle columnist Cathy Hastie in a 2013 photo.

Editor’s note: Lifestyle columnist Cathy Hastie was a remarkably healthy cancer patient. Then she stopped bike commuting. Here, she describes what happened next.

Six months ago, I was healthy.

At 5’11” and 160 lbs, my body was capable of just about anything I asked it to do, from hoisting boxes to dancing the two-step to running a few miles through the neighborhood. I wasn’t overly demanding, forcing myself to reach for some calculated heart rate or working towards 9 percent body fat. I simply had a body that worked, and worked well. Even though I had cancer.

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Cycling helps earn Portland ‘Fittest City in America’ title

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Men’s Fitness magazine has named Portland the “Fittest City in America.” While that’s certainly something to be proud of, what makes this national recognition even more notable is that cycling got top billing in the magazine’s report.

The online version of the story opens with the author sharing his first-hand experience competing in a cyclocross race at Portland International Raceway last fall. The lead photo on the story shows a row of people riding bikes across the Broadway Bridge. There’s also an image in the story of the mural in downtown Portland that reads, “Welcome to America’s Bicycle Capitol.”

How’d Portland beat out cities like San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City for top honors (and for the second year in a row no less)? Here’s an excerpt from the story:

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Study shows cycling in heavy traffic may pose heart risk

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Riding on Broadway downtown-1

Riding on SW Broadway
in downtown Portland.
(Photo © J. Maus)

[Via Environmental Health News]

In what researchers call the first study ever to examine the relationship between traffic-related air pollution exposures and cardiac health among people who ride bikes, a study published last month found that cycling near heavy traffic “may have a significant impact” on heart health.

The research, Traffic-Related Air Pollution and Acute Changes in Heart Rate Variability and Respiratory Function in Urban Cyclists, was done in Ottawa by Canadian researchers and published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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Summit panel urges stronger connection between mobility, race, health

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The panelists: L to R: Dr. Philip Wu,
Olivia Quiroz, Mychal Tetteh, Noelle Dobson.
(Photos: BikePortland/Patrick Croasdaile)

In recent years, the fields of public health, equity and transportation policy have become increasingly linked. At a breakout session at the Active Transportation Summit yesterday, advocates and experts came together to learn more about why these issues are linked and discuss how to make that link stronger.

According to Dr. Phil Wu, a pediatric obesity specialist at Kaiser Permanente, “There’s no way to deal with obesity unless we start dealing with issues of transportation.”

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Bike riding doctor Mel Kohn to lead Oregon Health Authority

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Dr. Kohn, speaking in support of Safe Routes
to School during a visit by the U.S.
Surgeon General in April 2008.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Dr. Mel Kohn has been named the new head of the Oregon Public Health Division, which is set to become part of the new Oregon Health Authority. Kohn had been serving as the acting public health director and state health officer since September 2008.

Kohn also happens to be a regular bike rider who has shown engagement and interest in encouraging the use of bicycles — especially through the Safe Routes to School program — for years.

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Events explore link between transportation, health, and equity

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Mel Rader of Upstream Public
Health speaks at PSU today.
(Photo © J. Maus)

A quick note about a few events on the horizon that explore how transportation policy impacts the environment, public health and social equity.

Today at noon (sorry for late notice), Mel Rader of Portland-based health advocacy organization Upstream Public Health will speak at Portland State University as part of their ongoing Transportation Seminar Series. Rader’s talk will examine the health benefits that come with reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our transportation system. Rader spearheaded a Health Impact Assessment on a climate change policy that studied how a reduction in driving led to significant changes in air pollution, physical activity and collision rates.

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New study: Less driving would make Oregon healthier

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Download the study here.

Portland-based Upstream Public Health has just released an important new statewide study that draws a clear connection between transportation policy decisions and people’s health.

The study — Oregon’s first-ever statewide Health Impact Assessment (HIA) — was commissioned by Upstream and funded by the Northwest Health Foundation. Upstream collaborated with Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) and an advisory committee made up of a diverse range of experts from the planning, health, transportation engineering, and advocacy fields.

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Off to Corvallis to talk about public health

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This morning I’m off to the campus of Oregon State University in Corvallis to attend the Oregon Public Health Association’s annual conference.

I’ve been invited by the Northwest Health Foundation (NWHF) to join a panel discussion titled, New Partners in the Movement to Re-frame “Public Health”. The NWHF is behind the Community Health Priorities project, which is an exciting effort working to “Stimulate public conversation about health in our communities” (among other things).

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