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DW Health News: Biking is best

Charli Shield
August 21, 2018

Do you know just how healthy cycling to work is? Or that women get more migraines than men? And that coffee doesn't help weight loss? DW brings you this week's health news, all in one handy guide!

Fahrradfreundliche Stadt Kopenhagen (picture-alliance/dpa//APA/picturedesk/H. Ringhofer)
Image: picture-alliance/APA/picturedesk/H. Ringhofer

Biking is best 

Research has consistently proven that physical inactivity can lead to serious health problems. It’s also now showing that people are exercising less and less. One of the main problems is that many modern day folk struggle to prioritize exercise, or even fit it into their routine at all.

But one solution with an enthusiastic backing from health experts is to make exercise part of your daily commute. And new research just published from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health shows that cycling in particular is the healthiest way to get to work every day.  

The study found that people who cycled to work not only had improved physical health, but better mental health as well. Carried out in seven European cities - Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Örebro, Rome, Vienna and Zurich – the research assessed the effects of transport by car, motorbike, public transport, bicycle, electric bicycle and walking. Researchers asked around 8,800 people about their preferred mode of transport and their health and wellbeing.

They found bike riders had the best results in every analysis, in every city – they felt healthier, had better mental health, more energy, and were less likely to be stressed or experience feelings of loneliness.

While this isn’t the first study to show that cycling offers great health benefits, it’s another large-scale body of evidence that demonstrates the public health benefits of making cycling a more accessible, more attractive way for people to travel.

Couple on the couch
Image: picture alliance/PhotoAlto

Women prone to more migraines

For some time now, scientists have acknowledged that women experience more migraines than men. In past centuries, this discrepancy was attributed to women’s hysteria, and general difficulty in coping with stress.   

Although we now know this isn’t true, it’s still not entirely clear why women are more prone to debilitating headaches. But more and more evidence is being found to suggest hormones are to blame.

A new study, from the Universitas Miguel Hernandez in Spain, is the latest to add to this body of literature, with findings that show fluctuating sex hormones make it easier to trigger a migraine attack.

Estrogen, their research showed, stood out as particularly important in sensitizing particular cells around the trigeminal nerve (responsible for sensation in the face, biting and chewing), which is associated with headaches. Other hormones, like the primary male sex hormone testosterone, were even found to protect against migraines.

Although the researchers say their work is preliminary, as it relies on in vitro and animal models, it could help in the development of personalized treatments for migraine sufferers. Right now, there is no cure.

Penelope Cruz in To Rome With Love
Image: picture alliance/Everett Collection/Sony Pictures Classics

Caffeine will not help you lose weight

If you’re looking for a way to lose weight, don’t rely on coffee.

Previously, some theories have suggested that coffee could suppress appetite or even speed up your metabolism. But according to a new study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Diatetics, caffeine has no effect on weight loss.

Researchers studied 50 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 50 one day a week for three weeks, giving them a caffeine-infused juice or a placebo each morning. The drink was either caffeine-free, a low dose caffeine equivalent, or a high dose caffeine equivalent.

Thirty minutes after drinking the beverage, they were offered a breakfast buffet and told they could eat whatever they liked. Interestingly, the scientists found that those who were given the lower-dose caffeine drink ate around 10 percent less breakfast, compared to those given a caffeine-free beverage or the higher-dose caffeine drink. The participants also recorded everything they ate throughout the rest of the day.

Each person was given a variety of the dosages, and was never told which one they were drinking. The researchers concluded that although caffeine has a small effect on food intake shortly after it’s consumed, that quickly wears off.