Cycling to Work Halves Risk of Cancer and Heart Disease

Cycle to work

Cycle to work

Cycling to work slashes the risk of cancer, heart problems or dying early by nearly half, British research shows today.

Commuters who swap their vehicle or bus pass for a bike could cut their risk of developing heart disease and cancer by nearly half, new research suggests - but campaigners have warned there is still an "urgent need" to improve road conditions for cyclists.

Numbers have risen in recent years thanks to the Government's Cycle to Work Scheme - a tax-efficient scheme that allows employers to buy and hire out bikes to their staff for a regular payment.

They found that people who walked to work had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and dying as a result of any cause. Also, walking is a lower intensity form of exercise.

In the study, which was created by experts at the University of Glasgow, it was revealed that although walking to work is good for you, it surprisingly doesn't offer the same benefits as taking a bike.

2,430 of those studied died, 3,748 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,110 had heart problems.

Dr Carlos Celis-Morales, from the University of Glasgow, said: "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".

People who combined cycling and public transport in their commute also showed health benefits.

Only about 7 per cent of British adults regularly cycle to work and just 4 per cent do it every day.

"What we really need to do is change our infrastructure to make it easier to cycle - we need bike lanes, to make it easier to put bikes on trains, showers at work".

The researchers point out that they conducted an "observational" study in which they used third-hand data and are therefore unable to prove cause and effect.

Carried out over five years and taking in data from 263,450 United Kingdom commuters (48% male, 52% women, mean age 52.6), the researchers demonstrated that the reason cycling cuts cancer risk is highly unlikely to be associated with weight loss.

Cycling was considered to be slightly better than walking as a mode of commuter transport since it is usually longer and more intense.

"You don't need to join a gym or run the marathon".

Other explanations include cyclists being leaner (even if they are not weighing any less) and lower levels of inflammation in the body. "Anything that gets you a bit hot and out of breath - whether it's cycling all or part way to work or doing some housework - can help make a difference", she added.

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