Adding clarity to cycling and cardiovascular health

The majority of us agree riding a bike is usually a lot of fun in addition to being a clean mode of transportation. In addition, it is a great form of exercise which makes us healthier, right? Most would assume this to be correct as well. However, is there evidence of this holding true? Yes, indeed there is!

A search of PubMed quickly revealed three recent studies among many others supporting this notion.

One study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion studied bicycle commuters in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. The study examined frequency of commute and destination cycling in relation to cardiometabolic risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as obesity, high blood pressure, and altered cholesterol. The study showed lower odds of obesity, hypertension, and high triglycerides in association with increased frequency of bicycling. More specifically, there were 20% fewer risk factors when taking three cycling trips per week. (Berger, A.T., Qian, X., Pereira, M.A., 2017)

A second study by Celis-Morales et al published this year (2017) in the British Medical Journal investigated for associations between active commuting and cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause mortality. The study found lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause mortality associated with cycle commuting. 

Another study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association by Grontved et al (2016) looked at Swedish individuals who either commuted to work by bicycle or passive transportation. They found that cycling to work was associated with lower odds of obesity, hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, and impaired glucose tolerance compared to passive travel to work. Thus, suggesting that cycling to work can be an effective means of prevention cardiovascular risk factors. 

Again, we really didn't need another reason to love cycling, but there is plenty of strong evidence that it can play an important role in preventing cardiovascular disease!

1. Berger, A.T., Qian, X., Pereira, M.A., (2017) Associations Between Bicycling for Transportation and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors Among Minneapolis-Saint Paul Area Commuters: A Cross-Sectional Study in Working-Age Adults. American Journal of Health Promotion. doi: 10.1177/0890117117710735. 

2. Celis-Morales, C.A., Lyall, D.M., Welsh, P., Anderson, J., Steell, L., Guo, Y., Maldonado, R., Mackay, D.F., Pell, J.P., Sattar, N., Gill, J.M.R. (2017) Association between active commuting and incident cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j1456

3. Grontved, A., Koivula, R.W., Johannson, I., Wennberg, P., Ostergaard, L., Hallmans, G., Renstrom, F., Franks, P.W. (2016) Bicycling to Work and Primordial Prevention of Cardiovascular Risk: A Cohort Study Among Swedish Men and Women. Journal of the American Heart Association. 5(11), doi: 10.1161/JAHA.116.004413