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How cycling to work could save thousands of lives a year – Health

It looks like cycling really is the healthiest way to commute to work.

A large U.K. study suggests that cycling commuters cut their risk of cancer and heart disease nearly in half. The researchers hope the findings will encourage more people to pedal their way to better health.

For almost 20 years, scientists have said cycling is associated with lower risk of death from all causes. How strongly wasn’t clear.  

To find out, researchers tapped a detailed database of medical and lifestyle information on more than 260,000 British adults with an average age of 53. They also checked death certificates and hospital admission records.

When investigators compared commuting by walking, cycling, car or public transport or a combination, cycling was the clear winner.

Over an average five years of followup, 2,430 participants died, Dr. Jason Gill of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow and his co-authors said in this week’s issue of BMJ.

Cycling to work was associated with a 45 per cent lower risk of developing cancer and a 46 per cent lower risk of heart disease compared with commuting by car or public transit.

The results are important, the researchers said, because “active commuting” helps people to be physically active as part of their daily routine instead of carving out time to hit the gym.

Commuters who walked nearly 10 kilometres or more than six miles a week also showed a lower risk of cardiovascular damage such as heart attacks and strokes.  

While a clear cause and effect can’t be determined in this study, previous randomized trials show cycling improves fitness.

Canadian cycling’s room to improve

Many of the studies on active commuting have been in countries with strong infrastructure for cycling, such as Nordic countries and China.

The U.K. study is the largest to date. And its findings are a clear call to governments to encourage and support people toward more active modes of travel, says a…

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