We know how it is. You want to lose weight by working out, but there never seems to be time to do it … that, or you just don't like going to the gym. Well, a new study conducted at the University of Copenhagen indicates that bicycle-commuting burns just as many calories as high-intensity exercise sessions, resulting in a similar amount of weight loss.

The study involved 130 overweight, relatively inactive test subjects aged 20 to 45, who were divided into four groups.

For six months, members of one group commuted to and from work by bicycle, cycling an average of 14 km (8.7 miles) per day. Another group instead exercised at moderate intensity for 55 minutes a day/five days per week, while a third group exercised at high intensity for 35 minutes a day/five days per week. The fourth group served as a control, not doing any bike-riding or exercising.

Use of heart rate monitors confirmed that all three active groups were performing their duties, and also indicated that they were all burning a similar number of calories when doing so.

At the end of the six-month period, members of the control group hadn't lost any weight. By contrast, the cycling group experienced an average reduction in fat mass of 4.2 kg (9.3 lb). This was statistically almost identical to the 4.5-kg (9.9-lb) loss of the high-intensity group, and notably better than the moderate-intensity group's 2.6-kg (5.7-lb) weight loss.

"This is good news to the many overweight people who may not have the time or inclination to join a fitness centre, because they also have to pick up their children and cook dinner after work," says Prof. Bente Stallknecht, head of the university's Department of Biomedical Sciences. "Our results show that it is possible to combine transport to and from work with effective physical exercise."

A paper on the research was recently published in the International Journal of Obesity. And if you're wondering about the value of commuting by e-bike, a study conducted last year indicated that riding them still provides a "meaningful amount" of exercise.