A Denmark study revealed that the risk for diabetes in elders could be decreased by cycling, even if they start the exercise only after retirement. One of the most common outdoor activities, going for a ride with the bicycle is both a convenient way to travel short distances and a guarantee to avoid health risks.
The research was conducted by the University of Southern Denmark and involved 24,000 males and 27,000 females with ages between 50 and 65 years old. All the elderly included in the survey were Denmark residents.
The scientists correlated the self-reported cycling activities with the data collected by the Danish National Diabetes Registry concerning health incidents.
The results showed a direct connection between the amount of time spent cycling and the risk for type 2 diabetes.
“Perhaps the most interesting and original finding of the study is that those who took up cycling after the study began also had a lower risk of developing diabetes than those who did not. This suggests that it is not too late to gain the benefits of taking up cycling, even in the years approaching retirement,” explain the authors.
As there are other factors that can increase the risk for the disease, such as diet, smoking history, alcohol consumption and waist circumference, the relation cannot be causal. However, it is clear that people who take bicycle rides are also less at risk of contracting diabetes.
What came as no surprise, people who started cycling earlier in life had a much lower risk of being affected by the disease.
In the study, the longest time per week spent by a person on a bicycle would be of seven hours. The period is indeed a performance, as in England the average elderly cyclist spends only 2-3 hours on a bike.
It seems however that Denmark has a very well kept secret on how its residents accept so happily to take up bicycle riding. The leading author of the study suggests that the key is in the country’s infrastructure.
People’s health and lifestyle are crucially influenced by their environment and the policies of the state they are living in. For example, urban planning and transport intervention may encourage elderly individuals to start new and healthier routines.
Cycling can easily be added to a daily routine, as it is convenient and it can successfully be used as a means of transportation.
The authors of the study point out that cycling can also be used by people who do not have time for another type of physical activity, and they encourage everyone to start riding the bike, no matter what age they might have.
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