As the end of the current lockdown heralds a reopening of gyms, many people may already hold the key to losing a few pounds – in the shape of their bicycle.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen found that inactive, overweight people can lose fat just as effectively by riding a bicycle as by paying to exercise in gyms. The results will come as no surprise to those who cycle already. However, it will be welcome news to those who’d like to lose weight but do not have the time, inclination or money to join a gym.
The study involved 130 overweight people with a BMI of 25-35 kg/m2. A criterion for participating in the study was they were not too active or muscular based on a series of parameters like body fat percentage, maximum oxygen uptake and level of physical activity.
Participants were divided into four groups. The first had to ride a bicycle to and from work. Two other groups had to undertake physical exercise five times a week, one at high intensity, the other at moderate intensity. The last group could make no changes and functioned as the control group.
The groups that cycled and were physically active during their leisure time burned the same amount of calories a week during these activities; only the intensity and form of physical exercise varied. Throughout the test – using the heart rate monitors, among other things – the researchers checked that the participants met the requirements and did the physical exercise they were asked to do.
After six months, all groups (with the exception of the control group) had less fat mass. The fat mass had been reduced by 4.5 kg (compared to the control group) in the group doing high-intensity leisure time exercise, by 2.6 kg in the group doing moderate-intensity leisure time exercise and by 4.2 kg in the group riding the bike to work.
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