Exercise: even better than we thought!

There is no limit to the benefits of bike riding and other moderate and vigorous exercise, Oxford University has found. The more, the better.

The compelling new study using data from more than 90,000 participants has established for the first time that there is no upper limit with exercise—a little is good, but for every increase in the amount you do, the benefits just keep going up.

Simply put, there is no threshold to the benefits to be gained.

Previous studies had seemed to indicate this, but they mostly relied on self reported data on exercise levels.

In this study the participants agreed to wear an accelerometer to measure their physical activity over a 7-day period in 2013 through 2015.

Participants in the lowest category of physical activity smoked more, had higher body mass index and were most often diagnosed with hypertension.

People in every increasing quartile of physical activity, for moderate-intensity activity, vigorous-intensity activity and total physical activity, were less likely to have cardiovascular disease.

For instance, compared to those in the lowest quartile, those in the second quartile of moderate-intensity exercise were 71% as likely to be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, those in the third quartile were 59% as likely and those in the highest quartile were 46% as likely.

Associate Professor Aiden Doherty, from the University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Population Health and one of the lead authors of the study, said: It shows that physical activity is probably even more important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease than we previously thought.

"Our findings lend further weight to the new WHO guidelines on physical activity which recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week for all adults.”

That's exactly how much exercise Australians would get if they commuted to work or education by bike each day.

That has to be worth it just to cut your risk of cardiovascular disease by such a massive amount.

Not to mention the long list of other benefit that bike riding brings.

Lead author Professor Terry Dwyer, said the potential risk reduction estimated in those engaging in relatively high levels of activity is substantial and justifies a greater emphasis on measures to increase levels of physical activity in the community.

The author said they found no evidence of a threshold for the inverse association between objectively measured moderate, vigorous, and total PA with CVD.

"Our findings suggest that physical activity is not only associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but the greatest benefit is seen for those who are active at the highest level.”

The study found that the benefits of higher levels of activity were similar for women as for men.

You can read the report here.

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.