How Daily Bike Rides Protect Your Heart

senior couple riding their bikes outsideExercise is important for heart health, but it can be difficult to squeeze exercise time into our daily routine. One simple way to make sure you get your heart rate up is to ride your bike instead of using a car or public transportation. In fact, biking from place to place as part of your daily routine may decrease your risk of heart disease.

This is the conclusion of two longitudinal studies that followed 65,000 participants for ten to twenty years. A Danish study published in the journal Circulation found that people who bike on a regular basis had between 11 and 18% fewer heart attacks over a 20 year period. This study found that biking as little as thirty minutes per week protected people from coronary artery disease. Compared to non-bikers, people who started biking during the first 5 years of the study had a 25% lower risk of developing heart disease over the length of the study.

A Swedish study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found similar results. This study followed middle-aged and older commuters for 10 years. Some participants biked while others took public transportation or drove. The participants reported their commuting habits, and their body weight, blood glucose and blood pressure levels were measured. These researchers found people who biked were healthier and less likely to be obese, and have problems with blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes. Researchers estimated that regular biking decreased the prevalence of obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes—all risk factors for heart disease—by 24%, 6%, 13%, and 11% respectively.

These results show that working out in the gym is not the only way to protect your heart through exercise. Replacing sedentary methods of traveling like driving and public transportation with more active methods like biking is a great way to add time to your schedule and purpose to your workout. What are you waiting for? Get biking!

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