Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, the CDC reports that one person dies of cardiovascular disease every 36 seconds. So as we get older, it becomes increasingly important to prioritize our heart health. Luckily, emerging science offers us some hope and insight into how we can extend our lifespan with simple lifestyle changes. According to the latest research, cycling might be an activity worth taking up.
Cycling and Mortality Risk
The July 2021 study published in Jama Internal Medicine set out to investigate the association between cycling and risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality among people with diabetes, since folks with the condition are at an increased risk for premature death. For their research, the scientists gathered information on 7,459 adults with diabetes (average age 56) from 10 European countries from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. Participants completed questionnaires regarding their medical history, sociodemographic, and lifestyle information from 1992 through 2000 (baseline examination) and at a second examination five years after baseline. They also self-reported time spent cycling per week at baseline and at the second examination. Of the participants, 5,423 of them completed both examinations. By the end of the study, 1673 deaths from all causes were registered. A final analysis was conducted in November of 2020.
Results of the research indicated that compared with the reference group of people who reported no cycling, those who cycled had a 24 percent decreased risk of all-cause mortality. What was perhaps even more shocking was that those who initially reported that they did not cycle and then took up cycling during the five year follow-up period saw as much as a 35 percent decreased risk of dying from any cause. Those who cycled reported the time they spent cycling each week, and fell into categories of one to 59 minutes, 60 to 149, 150 to 299, and more than 300 minutes per week. As expected, those who cycled the most saw the most significant decrease in mortality risk. Similar results were also found for CVD mortality.
Overall, these findings suggest that hopping on your bike can extend your lifespan, especially if you have diabetes. “The present investigation extends the level of evidence within this field by documenting that cycling and taking up cycling may offer specific health benefits in people with diabetes over and above other physical activities, including walking,” the researchers said. Cycling could therefore be encouraged as an activity for people living with diabetes to lower their risk of dying prematurely.
So if your bicycle has been collecting dust in your garage for years, break it out and take the scenic route. Not only will you be enjoying the best that summer has to offer, but you’ll be adding years to your life, too!