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Add up to five years to your life expectancy by getting regular intense exercise. And not crashing.

The European Society of Cardiology has released the findings of a recent study conducted among cyclists in Copenhagen, Denmark, showing that it's relative intensity of exercise rather than duration that's the key to significant health benefits, particularly with reference to the heart.

The conclusion is that men who cycle intensely and quickly live on average 5.3 years longer, and men with average cycling intensity 2.9 years longer, than men with a slow measured pace of pedalling. For women, the figures equated to 3.9 years longer for speedy ladies, and 2.2 years for average pace.

Various factors were taken into consideration during the study, including age and BMI of individuals, alcohol intake and other forms of exercise taken. The benefits to health, including those you'd expect like reduction in obesity, lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol and improvement of oxygen capacity were all much more marked when the pace of exercise was quicker and more intense rather than slower. 

Current recommendations are for 30 minutes or more of moderate physical exercise every day for an adult. These latest findings suggest that the intensity and duration now may need to be adjusted for the absolute optimization of health benefits. 

Professor Peter Schnor, who led the research in Copenhagen, states "this study suggests that a greater part of the daily physical activity in leisure time should be vigourous, based on the individual's own perception of intensity."

But, according to The Daily Mail, Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, has concerns about underlying medical conditions and taking up exercise from scratch at a higher level than would previously have been seen as beneficial. "If regular cyclists want to cycle faster that's one thing, but I would be concerned about a general message that short and sharp is better than long and slow." 

"Intense exercise puts a huge load on the heart and this could be a problem for people with heart disease or who are unused to exercise."

So, it looks like everyone should get out on their bike slowly to start with and once fit enough, make every trip a time trial. 

Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling. 

Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other. 

She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting. 

11 comments

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 4 years ago
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The bloke in the picture looks like an old mate of mine.

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Loki [9 posts] 4 years ago
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Fascinating.

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 4 years ago
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Fascinating.

Which? The reportage on a study telling us nothing beyond the obvious? Or OldRidgeBack's delightful non-sequitur?

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stewieatb [292 posts] 4 years ago
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So, it looks like everyone should get out on their bike slowly to start with and once fit enough, make every trip a time trial.

Wasn't there a guy on here saying he has aerobar extensions on his commuter?  3

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handlebarcam [646 posts] 4 years ago
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But, according to The Daily Mail...

...wait, wait, I'm rolling the dice... let's see... it prevent cancer.

At least they are being consistent.

BTW, the comments section on Daily Fail articles never fails to disappoint. Here are some gems: "No-one should be encouraged to cycle on the roads until we have a proper registration system and proficiency test. To do otherwise is nothing short of murder." and "Cyclists should stay off the road, until they pay road tax & insurance."

Classic. Trouble is, I think reading Daily Wail comments may have given me cancer. I can feel a tumour coming on right now.

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italiafirenze [70 posts] 4 years ago
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Without reading the study is it not possible, especially somewhere like Copenhagen which is full of recreational and commuter cyclists, that those with the greater health are more likely to cycle fast because of an overall propensity toward health and exercise? Rather than the increased cycling pace being the factor that leads to the increased health?

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DanGot [27 posts] 4 years ago
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I really believe that the Daily Mail journos don't have a fucking nanogram of intellect; they hate to see people enjoying themselves and being active. Test, tax and insurance before you ride a bike? What's next, taxing us on walking in the parks? Disgraceful!!! They should fucking stick to writing about ladies pants  14 14 14

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pedalismo [59 posts] 4 years ago
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That's why I love hilly MTBing and well as road racing. It goes from buzzing downhills to heart-thumping climbs in the space of a few minutes. Not for beginners though, I concur.

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antonio [1124 posts] 4 years ago
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At six weeks shy of my 74th birthday, it looks like my intense turbo training is paying off, and I only want stay with the clubrun!!

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PhilRuss [388 posts] 4 years ago
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No.....I protest! Down with ladies pants!
P.R.

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paulfg42 [387 posts] 3 years ago
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It's the 'And not crashing' bit that lets me down.