We all know that staying active is important for our health. And sure, working out at a gym or attending an exercise class is a great way to do so – but what if that’s just not your thing? It can be inconvenient, cost prohibitive or feel too public. For some, structured physical activity can seem impossible to squeeze into an already packed schedule!
Whatever the reason, if the gym isn’t for you, how can you still make time to be active?
The American Heart Association’s (AHA) suggestion? Try biking to work.
Biking as a form of transportation can help to integrate activity into your day-to-day life, fitting easily into the time you’ve likely already set aside for commuting.
Kim Blond, author and assistant at the University of Southern Denmark, says that encouraging individuals to consider biking as a form of transportation “because recreational and commuter biking is an easy way to make physical activity part of one’s routine in a non-structured and informal fashion.”
So how much can biking to work really impact your health? The AHA cites two studies – one from the AHA journal Circulation, and the other from the Journal of the American Heart Association – as pointing to the fact that biking regularly (to work, the grocery store or for leisure) can lower an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
Let’s break it down!
The Circulation study tracked 53,723 Danish adults between the ages of 50 and 65 for 20 years. It found that during the 20-year follow-up (1993-2013), 2,892 experienced heart attacks. An analysis of coronary heart disease risk factors in the study estimates that 202 of these cases (7.4%) could have been prevented if the individuals biked on a regular basis.
It also found that biking for as little as 30 minutes per week can help to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.
Beyond reducing the risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack, biking regularly helps to support wellness by reducing the risk of other serious health conditions, such as obesity and diabetes. A study from the Journal of the American Heart Association followed 23,732 people between ages 40-69 for 10 years. During that period, those in the study who maintained regular biking or who started biking regularly had lower risks for obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Like the Circulation study, the Journal of the American Heart Association found that active commuting was environmentally and financially sustainable, time effective and positive for personal health.
So how do you get started? The entire month of October, we are working to bike our way to healthier hearts by participating in Biketober. And we would love for you to join us!
By biking for as little as ten minutes, not only can you kickstart your health, but you can also be entered to win prizes like restaurant vouchers or bike gear!
It’s good for you and for the environment. That’s why Kristin Kyle, the Executive Director for the Metro Atlanta American Heart Association, wants you to participate, too!
“As the American Heart Association, we have a mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. One of the ways we do that is by encouraging people to move more to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies show that regular biking, like bike commuting, does just that! It gets you to work and provides the activity your heart needs. Having Biketober is a great way to bring our community together so we can motivate each other to be heart healthy.”Kristin Kyle, Metro Atlanta American Heart Association