Diabetes and Cycling: Can You Really Bike Your Way To Wellness?

This guest post is from Jon Stanton of Lansing, Mich. After being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Stanton lost 230 pounds by adopting a healthy diet and walking every day.

Got diabetes? Grab a bike. In fact, according to some recent analysis of research from a fellow weight-loss success story, cycling may be more beneficial to your A1C (if you are a diabetic) than some of the more popular pills.

Bill Hart-Davidson is a professor at Michigan State University. His story is very familiar to my own. Struggling with his weight, he was diagnosed with pre-diabetes in 2006. Being a researcher at heart, he dug into the literature and found that diabetes is largely treatable with lifestyle changes, especially when it’s caught early before a person has progressed to the full-blown form of the disease.

Bill started making good lifestyle choices. He chose healthy foods and started exercising. The weight came off and the diabetes went away. Recently, he joined a local cycling group I’ve formed in Lansing (click here if you want to join too…) consisting of riders who are either managing their diabetes through healthy living or have friends/loved ones who struggle with the disease. Some of the group will be riding in the upcoming Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association. The group plans to stay active after that too because…cycling (just like walking) WORKS!

I’m not a doctor by any means, but I would like to cordially suggest that doctors seriously begin considering a prescription for a bike instead of Glucophage for their pre-diabetic patients. Bill’s research analysis is proof in the pudding. His essay also discusses how cycling is an activity nearly anyone can undertake because it’s actually quite gentle on the body.

When I weighed 430 pounds and was staring diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and congestive heart failure in the face, I didn’t think I’d be able to pick up a bike ever again. I had tried a few years before and couldn’t even sit on the seat because of my size. After dropping about 150 pounds through walking and eating correctly, I pulled the bike out again, and fell in love with cycling.

That first year, I pounded my way around on a cheap mountain bike I paid $10 for at a police auction and finished my riding in the fall by tackling 60 miles on the Pere Marquette Trail. It was a bittersweet moment and one I’ll not soon forget. Read more about it here.

The next year, I decided to get a better bike, ride 60 again, and then 80 and then…the granddaddy for cyclists…a true century ride – 100 miles. I did that in August of 2010 – in 95 degree heat – with an old friend from high school who only ever knew me as fat. Read more about that experience here.

So what’s stopping you? I started my journey toward health by walking to the end of my driveway and back – less than 500 feet. A year later, I did a half-marathon. I started my cycling adventures by going a mile down the street. About a year later, I rode 100 miles. My diabetes is non-existent now and I hope it never manifests itself again. I know one thing for certain – I will fight it with healthy living for as long as I can.

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  2. Tim Phillips 11 months ago

    This article was very exciting for me. I can do twenty miles now in the Florida heat and feel tired but great. My family is worried about me but I feel so much better now and have more energy. I still have 63 more pounds to go to hit my goal. I’ve already lost 54 over a two year period. (I cannot lose weight very quickly but I can sure put it on in a hurry!) Anyway, good for you. I’m proud that someone has already done what I’m doing. My sincere hope for you is that your diabetes never returns. I’m still on an ungodly amount of medications for cholesterol, Diabetes and blood pressure. I haven’t been able to reduce them yet but my numbers are coming down.
    Thanks for your inspiration!
    Tim Phillips

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