Most of my friends who ride bikes are 25 years younger than I am, so I am always looking for folks my age who ride. When I finally find one, it turns out he can ride rings around me. Sandy Scott just won his 25th state championship in cycling – at the age of 72. He has broken every state cycling record in Florida.
You may have heard of Sandy. He is famous and wrote a book (From Broken Neck to Broken Records) about breaking his neck in a bike race at the age of 65 in October of 2005. He spent five months in a brace and it was nine months before his C1 vertebra healed. Nonetheless, he was on the training bike in his home every day a week after the accident, working no less than 70 minutes a day. That’s the kind of dedication it takes to be a champion at any age.
But that was some years ago. How does he get to where he is today in terms of stunning good health and cycling endurance?
This is what he wrote for his 72nd birthday in his blog at Growing Bolder,” At the age of 72 this morning …. I not only feel like a million dollars, but I am literally in better condition AND stronger than I was as a young police officer in his early 20s! I love the fact that I am as fast or faster than many of the good, much younger cyclists, and I guarantee you that at my current weight of 154, I can probably out bench press most of them! How can YOU do that?”
Fortunately, he answers his own question.
“Get regular, vigorous aerobic exercise, keep your core muscles strong, train with weights (absolutely vital as you age), consume a healthful diet with lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, engage in activities for which you have a passion, learn something new on a regular basis, challenge yourself, etc. More controversial, but something that has worked for me since my 20s, and has allowed me to sometimes go as long as 10 years without so much as a common cold, I take a slew of vitamins and minerals daily….”
I love this summary. About a year ago, I took a course called Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at Any Age.In it, Dr. Anthony Goodman made the same points as Sandy regarding regular exercise, both aerobic and with weights, eat a healthy diet with lots of whole foods, engage in outside activities, learn something new regularly. Never stop growing physically or mentally.
Sandy has a solid work ethic, churning out over 14,000 miles a year in Florida on his bike. His resting heart rate is below 50 yet he says he has gotten a maximum rate of 195 in the heat of a time trial.
Sandy said that two years ago his doctor told him about the book NO More Heart Disease, by Dr. Louis Ignarro, about the power of Nitric Oxide. He recommended taking a combination of L-arginine and L-citrulline. Sandy started taking it and noticed a big improvement in his racing results. He said that since starting this treatment, he has steadily advanced in speed.
L-arginine is converted in the body into a chemical called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to open wider for improved blood flow. L-arginine also stimulates the release of growth hormone, insulin, and other substances in the body. L-citrulline is a naturally occurring amino acid found in food, such as watermelons, and also made in the body. Our bodies change L-citrulline into another amino acid called L-arginine and also to nitric oxide. L-citrulline might help increase the supply of ingredients the body needs to making certain proteins. It might also help open up veins and arteries to improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure, WebMD says.
Sandy says this combination works for him and he has friends who have also achieved good results after starting to use it.
As you know, I am a regular guy not a physician, so I need to tell you that before adopting anything like this you must talk with your medical advisor. It’s wonderful that Sandy and his friends have positive results. But, even Sandy had his personal doctor recommend it.
Before we concluded Sandy stressed that it is never too late to start working on your health. He has friends who are our age who have just begun and they show good positive results. I couldn’t agree more. Last year, I wrote about the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommending seniors exercising.
It was great meeting Sandy by phone and I wish him all good luck in his upcoming races. He appears to be the exception that proves the rule when it comes to seniors and endurance sports that I wrote about last month.