Researchers from the University of Glasgow have delivered good news for avid cyclists everywhere. Taking your bike to work could reduce your risk of cancer by 45 percent, as well as your risk of heart disease by 46 percent, the investigative team revealed.
For the purposes of their study, the researchers evaluated the data of over 264,337 people from the UK Biobank project, an international health resource. The team then questioned the participants on their methods of traveling to work. From there, the researchers maintained contact with the participants for five years. The average age of the participants was 53 years at the beginning of the study. Any cases of heart attacks, cancer, and deaths that occurred during that time period were carefully analyzed and then connected to the participants’ mode of travel, reported CNBC.com.
By the end of the study, the researchers discovered that commuters who covered ground by way of a bicycle had a 41 percent reduced risk of premature death. Similarly, walking to work had been linked to lowered risks of developing heart disease (27 percent) and dying from heart disease (36 percent); there were no significant reductions to the risks of cancer nor premature death, however. According to the Independent.co.uk, of the 2,430 people who died during the course of the study: 496 deaths were from hearth disease while 1,126 deaths were from cancer. Moreover, 3,748 people developed cancer over five years while 1,110 underwent events that related to heart disease, like a stroke or heart attack.
In a statement, Dr. Jason Gill, Associate Academic at the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, said: “Cycling all or part of the way to work was associated with substantially lower risk of adverse health outcomes.”
Dr. Carlos Celis-Morales, Research Associate at the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, added: “Walking to work was associated with lower risk of heart disease, but unlike cycling was not associated with a significantly lower risk of cancer or overall death. This may be because walkers commuted shorter distances than cyclists — typically six miles per week, compared with 30 miles per week — and walking is generally a lower intensity of exercise than cycling.” (Related: Stunned researchers discover that the impact of walking dramatically boosts blood flow to the brain, boosting cognitive function)
If their findings are indeed causal, Gill has said that “policies designed to make it easier for people to commute by bike, such as cycle lanes, city bike hire, subsidized cycle purchase schemes and increasing provision for cycles on public transport may present major opportunities for public health improvement.”
“A shift from car to more active modes of travel will also decrease traffic in congested city centers and help reduce air pollution, with further benefits for health,” said Professor Lars Bo Andersen, a professor at the Department of Sports Medicine in the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences.
Jason Torrance, Policy Director of cycling charity Sustrans, has told the Independent.co.uk that cycling to work was “a proven way for people to improve their health, to help their local economies and to improve their productivity at work,” before adding “There’s an urgent need to improve road conditions for cyclists and transforming local roads and streets into places that people feel safe and want to be. Some cities are taking a leading role in doing that, like London and Manchester, which are doing some fantastic things. But more needs to be done.”
If there are any further developments in the world of health, then you can read all about them at MindBodyScience.news.