Bike to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Posted 08/29/2016 | By HealthCorps

What if your mode of transportation could help to reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes? What if a daily health habit could help you to avoid this chronic life-style related disease? A new study says that biking to work or as a recreational pastime is associated with a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The study published in PLOS Medicine included 24,623 men and 27,890 women in Denmark, recruited between the ages of 50 and 65. They were asked to self-report about biking habits, recreational and as a method of transportation to work. The data was collected in the Danish National Database Registry.

The authors of the study found that participants who were “habitual cyclers” were less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and the risk fell even lower, the more hours spent cycling per week. Five years after the initial information was collected, participants were contacted for follow up. Cycling habits were reassessed. People who had now taken up habitual cycling had a 20% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared to non-cyclers.

Researchers adjusted for diet, alcohol consumption, smoking habits, physical activity aside from cycling, waist circumference and BMI. The results of the study and the follow up assessments do have to be taken in the context of self-reporting bias. Still the findings are robust enough to encourage a habit of cycling, early in life, and then perpetuating it as a means of travel to and from school and work, and as an extra-curricular fitness activity. Making cycling habitual could help to minimize risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. And cycling “fits” into daily activities, during the work week and on the weekend.

It was also encouraging for the researchers to see that even when cycling was taken up in middle age, it still helped to lower the risk of this very prevalent chronic disease. And the positive health impact was seen in both genders. With childhood and teen obesity rates high, and two thirds of adults in the U.S. overweight or obese, a cycling habit that can easily fit into one’s daily schedule and have an impact on a chronic disease associated with excess weight, could be an easy sell to the general public.

Sources: Medical News Today

PLOS Medicine

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