Bike sharing offers big fitness benefits for the little commute

Mon Jun 24, 2013 8:12am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With bike sharing plans rolling on asphalt from New York City to Budapest, experts say city streets are becoming as fitness-friendly as country trails.

Even short cycling jaunts can make a difference in the health of city dwellers.

"If you were driving a car and switched to biking, that 10 minutes going and coming a day would be a big deal," said Dr. Robert Oppliger, an exercise physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine.

Oppliger, an avid cyclist, said even a two-to-three-mile (3.2-to-4.8-km) spin can yield significant health benefits.

"There's a lot of information coming out on something called active transport that compares traveling by bike or public transit to traveling by car," he said. "The benefits are significant the more mobile you are."

Government guidelines recommend adults accumulate 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity per week. Cycling, he said, can be part of that.

"Bicycling has positive effects on weight and cardio- vascular health," he said. "Even a couple of times a week is beneficial in terms of all the problems with obesity."

Last week the American Medical Association designated obesity, which affects one third of U.S. adults, a disease.   Continued...

A man rides a bicycle down 7th Avenue through Times Square in the early morning in this June 21, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files