A study published in The Lancet confirms that cycling is one of the best forms of exercise for losing weight or keeping trim.
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, investigated the relationship between commuters’ chosen means of transport and obesity risk. They studied 72,999 men and 83,667 women aged between 40 and 60.
Comparing the daily modes of transport of 150,000 participants revealed that cycling was one of the most effective forms of exercise for keeping trim and even for losing weight.
The scientists drew information from the U.K. Biobank data set, set up to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease.
They found that the most common means of commuting was the car or public transport, used by 64 per cent of men and 61 per cent of women. Active modes of transport such as walking and cycling were used by 23 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women.
Overall, those who didn’t commute to work by car or public transport had lower levels of body fat. Plus, active commuters getting to work by bike had lower BMIs (Body Mass Index) than those who walked to work.
Commuters who favored cycling had the lowest BMIs. For the average man in the sample (age 53 years, height 176.7cm, weight 85.9kg), cycling to work was associated with a weight difference of 5kg compared with driving or taking public transport.
The results revealed that BMI was 1.71kg/sq m lower among male cyclists and 1.65kg/sq m lower among female cyclists, compared with commuters using “passive” modes of transport.
Similar results were seen with body fat measurements, which were 2.75 per cent lower for male cyclists and 3.26 per cent lower for female cyclists.
Other active modes of transport, such as walking, were also associated with significantly reduced BMI and body fat, albeit to a lesser extent.
The scientists remind commuters that it’s important to use every opportunity to fit physical exercise into the working day, especially for those with sedentary lifestyles.