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Cycling to work as effective as daily gym visits for weight loss, study finds

People commuting by bike lost more than 9 pounds on average over the study period

Commuting by bike is as effective as going to the gym each day when it comes to losing weight, according to a new study.

The study, which will be published in the International Journal of Obesity, was carried out by researchers at the University of Copenhagen with the subjects comprising 130 overweight people aged 20-45 and with a body mass index of 25–35 kg/m2 living in the Greater Copenhagen area.

Over the six-month study period, some followed their existing lifestyles to provide a control group, while some were asked to commute by bike to work each day, with an average daily distance of eight miles.

Others were put through a five-day-a-week gym routine aimed at achieving weight loss, comprising either 35 or 55 minutes a day.

On average, people undertaking 55 minutes of daily exercise lost 9.9lbs (4.5kg) during the period, while those who rode a bike to work lost 9.2lbs (4.2kg). Those who exercised for 35 minutes each day lost 5.7lbs (2.6kg).

“A meaningful fat loss was obtained by 6 months of active commuting and leisure-time exercise, but fat loss was greater with vigorous compared to moderate intensity exercise,” the study concluded.

“Active commuting is an alternative to leisure-time exercise in the management of overweight and obesity.”

Professor Bente Stallknecht, who led the study, said: “This is good news to the many overweight people who may not have the time or inclination to join a fitness centre, because they also have to pick up their children and cook dinner after work.”

He added: “Our results show that it is possible to combine transport to and from work with effective physical exercise.”

Weight loss is just one of the benefits of an active commute.

A study in 2014 found that those who commuted by bike were less liable to suffer from stress and were more productive at work.

> Walking or cycling to work means less stress and more productivity, study finds

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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