ISLAMABAD: According to recent study, cycling to work is an important strategy for preventing cardiovascular risk factors that could lead to heart disease. Finding time for exercise can be challenging for many people, so clinicians working in the field of cardiovascular risk prevention should consider promoting cycling as a mode of transportation,” advises Anders Grøntved, M.Sc., M.P.H., Ph.D., senior study author and associate professor of Physical Activity Epidemiology at the University of Southern Denmark. Participants were questioned about their cycling habits at the start of the study and then again 5 years later. Additionally, Grøntved and colleagues recorded the exercise habits, physical activity levels, and frequency of bicycle riding of all participants as well as heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, smoking, diet, and alcohol consumption. “Because recreational and commuter biking is an easy way to make physical activity part of one’s routine in a non-structured and informal fashion; based on the results, public health authorities, governments, and employers ought to consider initiatives that promote bicycle riding as a way to support large-scale cardiovascular disease prevention efforts,” says Kim Blond, M.Sc., lead author and research assistant at the University of Southern Denmark. The researchers examined the potential relationships of cycling to work at the start of the research with a change in commuter cycling, with 10-year incidence of obesity, hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, and impaired glucose tolerance in men and women from Northern Sweden. The team also assessed whether genetic and other factors modified the relationships, and they examined the percentage of these risk factors for cardiovascular disease that could be prevented if all participants continued to cycle or switched to commuting by bicycle to work, during a 10-year follow-up period. At the study onset, compared with passive commuters – who drove to work or used public transport – participants who cycled to work were found to be 15 percent less likely to be obese, 13 percent less likely to have high blood pressure, 15 percent less likely to have high cholesterol, and 12 percent less likely to have pre-diabetes or diabetes. The researchers revealed that after 10 years, the individuals who switched from passive to active commuting were also less likely to be obese, have hypertension, have elevated cholesterol levels, or develop diabetes, when compared with the inactive commuters. The researchers note that while individuals who cycled for a longer duration or more frequently experienced small additional gains in risk reduction, there was no minimum amount of time or distance required to reduce the risk of cardiovascular risk factors. According to the study authors, it is estimated that switching from passive to active commuting may have prevented 24 percent of obesity cases, 6 percent of hypertension diagnoses, 13 percent of high cholesterol diagnoses, and 11 percent of the diabetes cases. “The really good news here is that it’s never too late to benefit from an active lifestyle. People who switched from passive to active commuting saw considerable gains in their cardiovascular health,” Franks concludes.