Cycling to work could ‘half your risk of cancer and heart disease’, study finds

Posted by
Hayley Spencer
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There’s nothing fun about commuting on public transport: the delays, the queues and standing like sardines inside a busy carriage are definite daily stress inducers. So cycling is an ever-more appealing option for those with two wheels and a reasonable distance between them and their office. And travelling by bike has just been proven to have unprecedented health benefits, too.

A study by the University of Glasgow which was published in the British Medical Journal shows that those who cycle have 46% less chance of getting heart disease and 45% lower risk of developing cancer,  compared with those who commute by driving or using public transport.

The five-year study of 264,337 UK participants also found that commuter cyclists were 41% less likely to contract any form of life threatening disease. On average, those who cycled were peddling 30 miles, but the further the commute the more health benefits were seen.

Walking was also found to reduce the chance of heart disease (by 27%) for those who walked more than six miles a week, but it had no discernible link to lowered risk of cancer or premature death.

The study’s experts suggested that the inflated benefits of cycling could be put down to the fact that cycling often enabled the participants to commute longer distances compared to walking, and meant that they were doing faster, higher-intensity exercise.

The effects were still seen even when statistics were adjusted to remove the effects that factors such as weight, diet and smoking could have on the participants.

Dr Jason Gill, from the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at Glasgow, said the study highlights "major opportunities for public health improvement". He added that it’s a sign the Government should implement more cycling schemes and infrastructure in order to enable people to cycle to work more easily.

The experts also highlighted the fact that doing your daily exercise quota via cycling didn’t require will power once it was an acquired habit.  "You need to get to work every day so if you built cycling into the day it essentially takes willpower out of the equation,”  Dr Jason Gill told the BBC.

Images: iStock.