Lower Death Risk Seen With Cycling in People With Type 2

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Lower Death Risk Seen With Cycling in People With Type 2

Adults with type 2 diabetes who regularly exercise using a bicycle or stationary cycle tend to live longer, according to a new analysis published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers were interested in looking at the effect of cycling on both death from all causes, and death from cardiovascular causes, in people with type 2 diabetes. To do this, they used data from 7,459 adults with diabetes who took part in a study called the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Participants with an average age of about 56 were recruited in 10 Western European countries between 1992 and 2000, and they completed detailed questionnaires about their medical history, social and demographic information (such as age, ethnicity, and income), and lifestyle — including diet and physical activity — both at the beginning of the study and after five years. A total of 5,423 participants completed both parts of the study’s questionnaires.

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The main behavior the researchers were interested in looking at was time spent cycling each week based on responses to the first set of questionnaires. In addition, the researchers looked at the change in cycling status between the first and second set of questionnaires, five years apart. When looking at the effect of cycling on death from all causes or cardiovascular causes, the researchers adjusted for other physical activity, diabetes duration, social and demographic differences, and lifestyle factors.

Cycling linked to lower risk of death

During a total of 110,944 person-years of follow-up — an average of nearly 15 years per person — there were 1,673 deaths recorded among the 7,459 participants. Compared with participants who reported no cycling at all in the first set of questionnaires, cycling 1 to 59 minutes per week was linked to a 22% lower risk of death from all causes. For those who cycled 60 to 149 minutes per week, the risk of death was 24% lower, and for those who cycled 150 to 299 minutes per week, it was 32% lower. But those who cycled even more didn’t see a greater reduction in death risk, with participants who did 300 or more minutes of cycling per week 24% less likely to die — the same as for participants who cycled 60 to 149 minutes per week.

When the researchers looked at the change in cycling from the first to the second set of questionnaires, they found that compared with participants who reported no cycling at both points in time, the risk of death was 10% lower for those who cycled then stopped, 35% lower for those who didn’t cycle at first then started, and 35% lower as well for those who reported cycling regularly in both sets of questionnaires. These results suggest that even if you’re not an active cyclist during middle age, you can still get the life-extending benefits of cycling by starting and maintaining this form of activity. For both cycling-related measures — cycling per week as reported in the first questionnaire set, and change in cycling between the first and second questionnaire sets — the results were similar when the researchers looked at the effect on death from cardiovascular causes, rather than from all causes.

The researchers concluded that cycling appears to reduce the risk of death from death from all causes, and from cardiovascular causes in particular, in adults with type 2 diabetes independent of other forms of physical activity. More research is needed to find out why cycling, in particular, may be especially beneficial in people with type 2, or whether other specific forms of physical activity could carry similar or even greater benefits.

Want to learn more about cycling with diabetes? Read “Biking for Health” and “Seven Tips for Cycling With Diabetes.”

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips on social media

A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree from Harvard University. He is a former Editorial Assistant for Diabetes Self-Management and has years of experience covering diabetes and related health conditions. Phillips writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.

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