A Danish study says that taking up cycling can significantly reduce the risks of getting type 2 diabetes. It was published on July 12, 2016, in PLOS Medicine.
Doctors have been suggesting people to take up exercise for a very long time. They have proven it reduces the risks of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer, among others. However, people are not always sure what kind of exercise they have to do. The usual suggestion is to engage in “moderate-intensity” activity which is not very specific.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common of these problems. Martin Rasmussen, from the University of Southern Denmark, and a group of his colleagues chose cycling as the primary activity to determine the impact of exercise in the prevention of this disease. The researching team carried out a cohort study that included more than 60,000 Danish adults including men and women. All the participants were aged between 50 and 65.
In Denmark, cycling is more than a sport. The infrastructure allows people to commute on their bicycles, but some of them do it as a hobby or as a way of training. This gave the researching team the opportunity to separate the participants in groups based on the amount of time they spent on a bike. To measure this, the specialists used a self-reported physical activity questionnaire which has been ranked well for its accuracy and practicality.
It is never too late to start doing something to improve health
Rasmussen and his team found out that people that spent more time on a bike, on a weekly basis, were less like likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Moreover, people that took up the activity when the experiment registered a much greater benefit than the ones who did not, they were 20% less likely to develop the disease. As a result, the specialists concluded that there is no age limit to benefit from it.
The study measured cycling both as a recreational and commuting activity, and it seems that the latter reaps the most benefits. According to the specialists, people that come from and go to work by bicycle are more exposed to the activity than the ones who do it for entertainment. In total, they spend an average of seven hours a week riding a bike, and gender did not report a significant change in the results.
The paper confirmed the potential benefits the activity in public health. It also refers to how the government could promote cycling in the community and make some infrastructural changes to encourage the exercise as a standard commuting method. In combination with screening rallies for type 2 diabetes, a campaign promoting the training could help other countries to achieve the commuting structure Denmark has.
The Medical Research Council funded the study, and it was published on-line in PLOS Medicine. Even though it was commissioned, the peer review is still pending.
Source: PLOS Medicine