Short Rides: Big Gains

Even trips of 10 minutes or less can prevent high blood pressure.

Selene Yeager |

Even trips of 10 minutes or less can prevent high blood pressure. – By Selene Yeager


When it comes to exercise, many of us still have an all-or-nothing attitude. If we’re not going to get a “real” ride in, why bother pulling out the bike? But new research shows that, though sustained efforts are best for losing weight, even pedaling around for just 5 to 10 minutes on a regular basis can help keep your heart healthy.

The study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise looked at the activity levels and heart health of more than 1,500 men and women ages 37 to 55 over a five-year span. Those who racked up the highest amount of short-bout activity (the average was 28 minutes) on a daily basis were 31 per cent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who accumulated the least. Each 10-minute increase in short-bout activity dropped the subjects’ risk 9 per cent.

Typically these short bouts of exercise involve taking the stairs and walking down the street to a store instead of driving, but an ideal way to rack them up is by bike. Trips of a 2km or so, which account for many of our daily errands, take just 6 minutes at a casual pace. Run a couple of those each day and you’ve already hit your heart-protective benchmark.

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The beauty of short trips is that you don’t even have to kit up for them—there’s no real need for a chamois if you’re on your bike for only 10 minutes. So keep a backpack handy and grab your bike instead of your keys whenever you don’t have far to go. It’s more fun than driving, and better for you, too.

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