Regular exercise is vital to managing diabetes: Physical activity burns glycogen, a form of glucose stored in muscles, and glycogen stores are replenished with glucose from the bloodstream. Cycling is one activity that offers a wide range of health benefits. Take this quiz to see how much you know about the advantages of cycling and how it can affect diabetes management. (Everyone is different, so consult with your health care provider before starting a new fitness activity to ensure it is safe and appropriate for you.)
1. Cycling provides which of the following health benefits? (More than one answer may be correct.)
A. Improved blood sugar and A1C levels.
B. Reduced depression.
C. Stronger bones.
D. All of the above.
2. For managing blood sugar levels, cycling intensely for a shorter period of time is more effective than cycling moderately for a longer period of time.
3. Cycling indoors using a stationary bike can be an effective alternative to cycling outdoors for gaining health benefits.
4. Cycling can have which of the following health effects?
A. It can decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
B. It can improve cardiovascular fitness.
C. It can improve joint mobility.
D. All of the above.
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1. A, B. Like all forms of aerobic exercise, cycling can help lower glucose levels and improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Research also shows that regular, moderate-intensity physical activity can help reduce depression, and outdoor activities such as cycling can be particularly beneficial for improving mental health. Because it is a non-weight-bearing, low-impact physical activity, cycling has not been shown to increase bone strength.
2. False. Getting physical activity is important, but there is no need to overdo the intensity. A study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise showed that, in overweight people, cycling at a moderate pace for an hour reduced blood sugar levels by 50% over the following 24 hours compared to being sedentary. Cycling at a high intensity for a half-hour also reduced blood sugar levels over the next 24 hours, but only by 19%.
3. True. Both cycling outdoors and cycling indoors using a stationary bike can effectively achieve a variety of health benefits. Both, for example, are effective at burning calories: According to Harvard University, a 155-pound person can burn roughly 252 to 278 calories stationary biking for 30 minutes, depending on the intensity, and roughly 288 to 594 calories outdoor cycling for 30 minutes, depending on the intensity. Both types of cycling also build muscle and are easy on the joints. Cycling on a stationary bike can be a better choice for those with balance issues, is generally very safe, and may be easier to use for high-intensity interval training. Cycling outdoors provides a chance to be in nature, a method of transportation, and a variety of different types of terrain.
4. D. A study of more than 50,000 Danish men and women between the ages of 50 and 65 found that cycling was associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The more time the subjects spent cycling, the lower their risk of developing the condition. In another study, those who rode a bike regularly were found to have 11% to 18% fewer heart attacks than noncyclists. Protection against heart disease was achieved with as little as 30 minutes of biking per week. Research in the Journal of Rheumatology found that cycling significantly improved quality of life and reduced joint pain, stiffness, and physical limitations in adults with osteoarthritis (OA).
Want to learn more about cycling and diabetes? Read “Biking for Health” and “Seven Tips for Cycling With Diabetes.”