Increased bicycle riding and brisk walking may be the secret for preventing weight gain, women have been told.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that cycling or a brisk walk was associated with less weight among pre-menopausal women, particularly those who were already overweight or obese.
The US study calculated that about two-thirds of American adults were overweight or obese, while 16 per cent of children and adolescents were overweight and a further 34 per cent were at risk.
Study authors suggested that this may be down to the fact that only around 0.5 per cent of the commuting population ride bicycles, of which only 23 per cent are female.
'To our knowledge, research has not been conducted on bicycle riding and weight control in comparison with walking,' the study authors said.
'Our objective was to assess the association between bicycle riding and weight control in pre-menopausal women.'
Anne Lusk, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, studied 18,414 women, aged 25 to 42.
The study - which began in1989 - found that in that year, some 50 per cent of the women spent time walking slowly, 39 per cent spent time walking briskly and 48 per cent rode a bicycle.
In 2005, participants on average reported spending more time walking briskly, some time walking slowly and the least amount of time bicycling. Additionally, the average time spent sitting at home was five times as much as the time spent being active.
According to the results, women who did not bicycle in 1989 but increased their bicycling by 2005 were less likely to have gained weight, even when riding for just five minutes a day.
The researchers concluded that there was a significant relationship between increased time spent cycling and the likelihood of weight gain.
'The benefits of brisk walking, bicycling and other activities were significantly stronger among overweight and obese women compared with lean women, whereas slow walking continued to show no benefit even among overweight and obese women,' they said.
'Unlike discretionary gym time, bicycling could replace time spent in a car for necessary travel of some distance to work, shops or school as activities of daily living,' the authors suggested.
'Bicycling could then be an unconscious form of exercise because the trip's destination, and not the exercise, could be the goal.'
From Health News