Want to keep the weight off? Get on your bike

Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:47am EDT
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Just five minutes of riding a bicycle each day can help a younger woman keep the pounds off, U.S. researchers reported on Monday in a study offering one potentially easy way to help Americans slim down.

The heaviest women benefited the most, the team at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston reported.

"Small daily increments in bicycling helped women control their weight. But the more time women spent bicycling, the better," said Harvard's Rania Mekary, who worked on the study.

"Women with excess weight appeared to benefit the most. This is encouraging for women with weight problems because they could substitute bicycling for slow walking or car driving."

The research could help public policymakers trying to find ways to slow the U.S. obesity epidemic, the researchers wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese and 16 percent of children and adolescents are overweight.

The accompanying disease burden costs billions and President Barack Obama has assigned his wife Michelle Obama and cabinet secretaries to find ways to counter this trend.

Their plan includes changes to neighborhoods and cities to make it easier for Americans to exercise.

Mekary's team studied 18,414 healthy women who had not yet gone through menopause taking part in the Brigham and Women's Hospital-based Nurses' Health Study, an ongoing study of women's health over time.   Continued...

<p>A man rides his bike under the FDR East River Drive in New York July 24, 2008. The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch for New York City through Thursday evening. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>