Cycling and walking to work 'substantially lowers' risk of disease

Cycling on road

Good news for regular cyclists: biking to work may lower your risk of developing heart disease by 46 per cent and cancer by 45 per cent, compared to a commute where you're not getting active. Overall there's a 41 per cent lower risk of premature death.

Walking to work is associated with a 27 per cent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 36 per cent lower risk of death from such disease – but cycling gives the extra benefit of cutting risk from cancer and premature death.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow, who published their findings today in the BMJ, suggest this may be because cyclists tend to travel further than pedestrians and cycling is a higher intensity activity than walking.

"Cycling all or part of the way to work was associated with substantially lower risk of adverse health outcomes. Those who cycled the full length of their commute had an over 40 per cent lower risk of heart disease, cancer and overall mortality over the 5 years of follow-up," concludes Dr Jason Gill from the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences.

"If these associations are causal, these findings suggest that policies designed to make it easier for people to commute by bike, such as cycle lanes, city bike hire, subsidised cycle purchase schemes and increasing provision for cycles on public transport may present major opportunities for public health improvement."

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