The results come from an examination of more than 18,000 premenopausal women, free from chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease, participating in the Brigham and Women's Hospital-based Nurses' Health Study II.
The ongoing study requires participants to respond to a questionnaire about their medical history, lifestyle and health-related behaviors every two years. In 1989 and 2005, participants reported on time spent engaging the previous year in various recreational activities.
Study results showed that women in the study gained an average of 20.5 pounds over the 16-year period.
Even though women gain weight as they age, researchers found normal-weight women who were bicycling as little as four hours a week in 2005 were 26% times less likely to gain to weight. However, overweight and obese women seemed to benefit the most - those who were bicycling just two or three hours a week were 56% times less likely to gain weight.
Among the walkers who had increased their daily activity by an average of 30 min/day over the years, only those who walked briskly were able to control their weight; walking slowly (<3 mph) had no effect on weight change.
The study appears in the June 28, 2010 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
Researcher claim the study shows that even small increases in cycling can have significant benefits for women, especially those who are overweight or obese. Researchers are calling on policy makers to make streets more bicycle-friendly, including building more bike lanes.
Click here to view the 2010 Toronto Cycling Map from the City of Toronto - a useful resource that shows where the city's bike lanes are, as well as route and connection suggestions.
Click here for a similar resource from the City of Vancouver.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.