Getting a leg up

Increasing physical activity level can help fend off chronic diseases

Dr. Michael Reeder, right, monitors the performance levels of Gabe Gutierrez Flores, a student at Colorado Mesa University and a member of the CMU cycling team, at the Monfort Family Human Performance Laboratory on the university campus. Reeder, who heads the human performance lab, said not everyone needs to work out like a competitive rider, but that activities such as riding bicycles and walking can help stave off conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.



A study makes it clear that getting out and pumping one’s legs — whether on a bicycle or walking — can fend off chronic diseases, even cancer, said the head of the Monfort Family Human Performance Laboratory at Colorado Mesa University.

“It doesn’t even have to be a full-time thing,” said Dr. Michael Reeder, who was a practicing orthopaedic specialist before moving to the Monfort lab two years ago. “If you increase your activity level a little bit, you’ll get a benefit.”

Proof of that lies in a study by the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, which noted that reductions in “active commuting” is resulting in declining levels of physical activity worldwide.

The study took into account the transportation modes of 263,540 participants with an average age of 52.6 from 22 locations in the UK and found that commuting by cycle and by mixed-mode including cycling were associated with lower risk of all causes of mortality.

Biking to work was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and all other causes of death, the study concluded.

Walking was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Initiatives to encourage and support active commuting could reduce risk of death and the burden of important chronic conditions,” the study said.

Public policy makers should keep in mind the benefits of such physical activity, Reeder said.

“I think it’s up to us to push for safe places to walk and recreate,” he said. “The health benefits are pretty remarkable.”

Information about the dangers of lethargy and benefits of exercise are among the lessons he’s hoping to impart at the human-performance laboratory, which is well equipped with exercise gear and equipment that measures how people are affected by exercise.

Students surrounded by enticements and exhortations to exercise, however, still fall prey to modern advancements, such as cellphones, Reeder said.

“You have to push back from all the tech, for sure,” he said.


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