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Bike to Work, Live Longer

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Here’s another way to keep the grim reaper at bay: According to experts, ditching the car or bus in favor of active commuting—especially biking—to work may reduce the risk of early death.

Researchers looked at the records of 263,450 participants (mean age 52.6 years) in the United Kingdom and logged information about how they regularly commuted to work. Five years later, the study assessed hospital visits and deaths among subjects.

At follow-up, 2,430 participants had died; 1,126 deaths were from cancer, and 496 were related to cardiovascular disease. There were 3,784 cancer events and 1,110 CVD incidences during the study period.

The researchers compared these statistics with commuting methods.

“In maximally adjusted models, commuting by cycle and by mixed mode including cycling were associated with lower risk of all-cause mortality, cancer incidence and cancer mortality,” the authors said. Walking was also linked with lower mortality and lower CVD risk, though the effects were less significant than they were for cycling.

While these results are promising, further research to determine causation is necessary to confirm them, the authors noted.

“The findings, if causal, suggest population health may be improved by policies that increase active commuting, particularly cycling, such as the creation of cycle lanes, cycle hire or purchase schemes, and better provision for cycles on public transport,” they conclude.

This study was published in The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) (2017; doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1456).

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

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