We all know cycling is a healthy pursuit but according to a study of cyclists in Copenhagen if you cycle vigorously you can live up five years longer than those cycled at a slower pace.
The 20-year study, involving 5,000 healthy people who cycled every day, found men who cycled quickly survived 5.3 years longer than those cycling the most slowly. For women the figures were 3.9 longer. Men pedalling at an average pace lived 2.9 years longer, women 2.2 years longer. Speed was seen more important than the duration of the ride.
The researchers in the Copenhagen City Heart Study chose not to quantify intense exercise. Participants were left to say what qualified as vigorous for them.
Relative to slow cyclists, faster cyclists who spent between half hour and a hour on a bike had the best chance of avoiding premature death from any cause (50%), the study found. Average speed cyclists had a cut of 33% in their risk of dying.
A 30 minute session of vigorous cycling saw a 82% cut in the risk of the faster cyclists (men and women) dying from a heart attack. The reduction was slightly less, 75%, for fast cycling that lasted longer.
Current recommendations prescribe that every adult should accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity in leisure time, preferably every day of the week.
The findings of the Copenhagen City Heart Study, which were presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Paris, took into account a range of factors such as the number of other sports activities undertaken by the cyclists, Body Mass Index, alcohol intake and blood pressure. The study’s participants were men and women aged 21 to 90 years old living in Copenhagen.