October 31, 2016
2 min read

Biking lowers risk for CVD, obesity

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Adults who bike regularly, for either recreation or to commute, have a lower risk for CVD, according to two separate studies.

Danish study

One study, published in Circulation, looked at Danish adults (n = 45,264; aged 50-65 years) over 20 years, during which there were 2,892 cases of MI.

Those who biked for recreation or to commute had between 11% and 18% fewer MIs compared with noncyclists.

Anders Grøntved, MSc, MPH, PhD, associate professor of physical activity and epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark, and colleagues estimated that 7.4% (95% CI, 3.6-11.1) of CHD events could have been prevented by cycling on a regular basis.

Researchers also found that as little as 30 minutes of biking per week can lower risk for CAD. Additionally, those who began biking during the first 5 years of follow-up and remained consistent had a nearly 25% lower risk for developing CHD vs. those who did not bike at all at baseline or during the follow-up period (adjusted HR = 0.76; 95% CI, 0.61-0.95).

“Finding time for exercise can be challenging for many people, so clinicians working in the field of [CV] risk prevention should consider promoting cycling as a mode of transportation,” Grøntved said in a press release.

Swedish study

The second study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, followed 23,732 Swedish adults (mean age at baseline, 44 years) over 10 years. Paul W. Franks, PhD, professor in the department of clinical sciences at Lund University in Sweden and guest professor at Umeå University in Sweden, and colleagues analyzed commuting habits, weight, cholesterol levels, blood glucose and BP.

At baseline, those who biked to work were 15% less likely to be obese (OR = 0.85; 95% CI, 0.73-0.99), 13% less likely to have high BP (OR = 0.87; 95% CI, 0.79-0.95), 15% less likely to have hypertriglyceridemia (OR = 0.85; 95% CI, 0.76-0.94) and 12% less likely to have prediabetes or diabetes (OR = 0.88; 95% CI, 0.8-0.96) compared with those who used public transportation or drove to work.

At 10-year follow-up, those who maintained biking or took up the activity at some point had lower odds of obesity (OR = 0.61; 95% CI, 0.5-0.73), hypertension (OR = 0.89; 95% CI, 0.8-0.98), hypertriglyceridemia (OR = 0.8; 95% CI, 0.7-0.9) and impaired glucose tolerance (OR = 0.82; 95% CI, 0.74-0.91) compared with those who never cycled to work or stopped doing so during follow-up.

“We found active commuting, which has the additional advantages of being time-efficient, cheaper and environmentally friendly, is also great for your health,” Franks said in the release. “The multiple advantages of active commuting over structured exercise may help clinicians convey a message that many patients will embrace more readily than being told to join a gym, go for a jog or join a sports team.”

Researchers also found that maintaining biking or picking up the activity during the 10-year follow-up may have prevented 24% of obesity cases, 6% of hypertension diagnoses, 13% of high cholesterol diagnoses and 11% of the cases of diabetes, indicating that it is not too late to benefit from an active lifestyle. – by Cassie Homer

Disclosure: Both sets of researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.