Cycling to work linked to major health benefits

Walking also beneficial but not as much
  • Deborah Condon

People who cycle to and from work have a much lower risk of developing heart disease and cancer, a new study has found.

They also have a reduced risk of dying from all causes.

Researchers in Scotland looked at over 264,000 people with an average age of 53. The participants were asked about their commutes to work, and data on hospital admissions and deaths was also collected. All were followed up for an average of five years.

The study found that those who walked to and from work had a lower risk of developing, and dying from, cardiovascular disease, compared to those who drove or used public transport.

However, this lower risk of cardiovascular disease was only seen in those who walked for more than six miles each week, which is around two hours of walking at a typical pace of three miles per hour.

Overall, it was those who cycled to and from work who saw the most health benefits.

They had the lowest risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer, and they also had a reduced risk of dying from all causes, compared to those who drove or used public transport.

Those who did a combination of active and non-active commuting also recorded some health benefits, but only if the active part of their commute involved cycling.

"The findings, if causal, suggest population health may be improved by policies that increase active commuting, particularly cycling, such as the creation of cycle lanes, cycle hire or purchase schemes, and better provision for cycles on public transport," the researchers from Glasgow concluded.

Details of these findings are published in the British Medical Journal.

 

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