Pedal faster and harder for a longer life. Science says so.

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

by Lara Dunn   August 31, 2011  

London Cyclist.JPG

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. 

11 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

The bloke in the picture looks like an old mate of mine.


posted by OldRidgeback [2492 posts]
31st August 2011 - 10:45



Loki's picture

posted by Loki [9 posts]
31st August 2011 - 10:53



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

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [578 posts]
31st August 2011 - 13:01


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? Wink


posted by stewieatb [299 posts]
31st August 2011 - 13:16


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.

posted by handlebarcam [545 posts]
31st August 2011 - 13:39


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?

posted by italiafirenze [68 posts]
31st August 2011 - 14:21


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 Angry Angry Angry

DanGot's picture

posted by DanGot [28 posts]
31st August 2011 - 16:07


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.


posted by pedalismo [60 posts]
31st August 2011 - 16:22


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!!


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1084 posts]
31st August 2011 - 19:09


No.....I protest! Down with ladies pants!


posted by PhilRuss [320 posts]
1st September 2011 - 2:23


It's the 'And not crashing' bit that lets me down.

posted by paulfg42 [388 posts]
18th December 2012 - 22:38