Bicycling to School May Help Lower Diabetes Risk

Woman riding a bike with her childrenCan some lifestyle factors help young people reduce their cardiometabolic risk factors and lower their risk for type 2 diabetes? A team of researchers in Denmark set out to understand whether sustained physical activity, such as regular bicycling, could help children improve their cardiometabolic risk factor profile.

The study, “Bicycling to school improves the cardiometabolic risk factor profile: a randomized controlled trial,” was led by researchers at the Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics at the University of Southern Denmark. It was published in October 2012 in BMJ Open.

The major goal of the prospective, randomized trial was to understand if children who bicycled to school had better cardiometabolic risk factor profiles and better cardiorespiratory fitness than children who did not ride bikes to school. The researchers examined data on 43 children at a single site in Odense, Denmark. None of the children regularly biked to school prior to the start of the study.

The children were randomly placed into 2 groups: a control group in which no lifestyle changes were implemented, and an intervention group in which the children were asked to ride bikes to school. The researchers compared changes in the children’s cardiometabolic risk factor scores and changes in their cardiorespiratory fitness levels.

The results of the study showed that children’s cardiometabolic risk factors scores were lower in the bicycling group than in the group that did not receive any lifestyle interventions. However, the researchers did not find that cardiorespiratory fitness improved in the bicycling group when compared to the control group.

The study authors conclude that their findings demonstrate that bicycling to school may help lower cardiometabolic risk factors in children. They also argue that this daily physical exercise may be helpful in lowering children’s risk for the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.

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