Minnesota counts biking’s benefits

Thursday, May 11, 2017

By: Jeff Ash


Want more proof that bicycling is good for you? Look just over the border, to Minnesota.


People who bike to work three times a week are less likely to be obese and have a lower risk of high blood pressure, according to a new study on the economic impact of bicycling in Minnesota.


“We want everyone to enjoy these kinds of health benefits. That’s why we encourage cycling and why we’re hosting the BayCare Clinic Century Bayshore to Lakeshore bike ride,” says Dr. William Witmer, an interventional cardiologist with Aurora BayCare Cardiology.


“We hope you’ll ride with us on June 3.”


Dr. Mark Pereira of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health led research into the health effects of bicycling for the study, which was done for the state Department of Transportation. Among the findings:


  • “Bicycling is linked to lower risk of metabolic syndrome, obesity and hypertension.”
  • “Taking three additional bicycle trips per week is associated with 46 percent lower odds of metabolic syndrome, 32 percent lower odds of obesity and 28 percent lower odds of hypertension.”

Metabolic syndrome describes a group of risk factors – a large waistline, high triglyceride level, low HDL cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar – that increases your risk for stroke, heart disease and diabetes.


Let’s bring that home. Registration is open for the BayCare Clinic Century Bayshore to Lakeshore bike tour. It offers scenic 20-, 60- and 100-mile courses through Brown, Kewaunee and Door counties for riders of all ages and skill levels.


The ride is sponsored by the BayCare Clinic Foundation and is part of the BayCare Clinic Bikes fitness and wellness initiative. BayCare Clinic Bikes promotes bicycling as a healthy, family-friendly activity. Efforts are aimed toward increasing bicycling and advocating for bicycling safety throughout northeastern Wisconsin.


All proceeds from the ride will go to the BayCare Clinic Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization which supports causes and organizations that promote improved health and livelihood in northeastern Wisconsin.


The study, by the numbers: Roughly 244,000 working-age adults – about 1 in 7 in the seven-county Twin Cities area – ride a bike to work at least occasionally. The average Twin Cities bike commuter rides 366 miles per year.


The study was done to help state officials measure the financial return on Minnesota’s investment in biking infrastructure, particularly bike lanes and paths used by commuters. That return includes $100 million to $500 million in health savings annually because of cyclists’ improved health, the study found.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.