Regular bike riding lowers risk of mortality among people with diabetes, and has a more powerful effect than other physical activity such as walking, a new study has found.
Even people who took up riding later in the study period had considerably lower risk of both all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality compared with consistent non-cyclists.
The European study involved 7459 adults with diabetes who were surveyed over multiple years as part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study.
It is long established that premature death from all causes and CVD causes is higher among persons with diabetes.
And diabetes is on the rise at a shocking rate in Australia, with sedentary lifestyles playing a cruel role.
So, while it was known that exercise could mediate diabetes, and studies had shown that bike riding could help, there remained uncertainty because bike riders also tended to partake in other physical activities.
This new study set out to investigate the association between time spent cycling and all-cause and CVD mortality among persons with diabetes, as well as to evaluate the association between change in time spent cycling and risk of all-cause and CVD mortality.
The results showed that participants who started or maintained their bike riding were more than 40% less likely to die relative to those who did not ride.
The researchers concluded that the association was stronger in cyclists than in walkers—or those who mixed walking and riding—because riding a bike resulted in more intensive physical activity.
"Meeting the physical activity recommendations both in terms of total physical activity volume as well as intensity is a major challenge, especially in people with diabetes,” the study reports
"Because lack of time is often quoted as a barrier, incorporating activities into everyday life may be an effective strategy.
"Cycling is a potential activity to replace motorized transport for short-to-medium distance trips (eg, during commuting to work without a substantial effect on time use).
"As moderate-to-high intensities are reached during cycling at self-selected paces in adults, cycling could decrease the risk of premature mortality."
This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.