Washington: If you are a middle-aged person
wishing to shed those extra kilos, you don`t need to join a
fancy gym or get into a rigid dieting habit, as a new study
has claimed brisk walking and bicycling can do the trick.
Although it sounds like any other scientific research on
obesity, the Harvard University study is a bit different as it
goes against earlier reports which have suggested rigorous
exercise to stave off obesity.
The researchers found that walking at least two miles or
biking as little as five minuets every day helped women gain
less weight than non-bikers, LiveScience reported.
It also found that women who ramped up that biking to
four hours a week were far more likely to maintain their
weight compared to non-bikers.
The analysis, which tapped into the Nurses` Health Study
II following more than 18,000 women for 16 years, has been
published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The Harvard researchers specifically compared the United
States with The Netherlands, where obesity affects only about
8 per cent of the population.
Over a quarter of the Dutch population bikes regularly,
usually to work or to school in dedicated biking lanes. In the
US, only 0.5 per cent of commuters use bikes, usually swerving
among the landmines of broken glass and opening car doors.
Elsewhere, the common use of bicycles and low rates of
obesity throughout Scandinavia and in countries such as Japan
and China is no coincidence
Although not stated in the published report, the Harvard
study results have three other significant implications.
Biking and brisk walking are easier on the knees compared
with jogging, making this a less painful route to fitness for
middle-age and overweight people.
Also, as reported last week in the Journal of the
American Medical Association, gaining 20 pounds or more after
age 50 can triple your risk for diabetes.
There`s an upfront cost for a bike, but that quickly
could be compensated for from saving on bus fare or gas.
Walking is free. Diabetes medicine and treatment will run you
hundreds to thousands of dollars a year.
Thus, these forms of exercise are ideal for those with
strapped incomes, the researchers said.