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Cycling to work offers route to avoiding early death

Words: Huw Morris
Cyclists from the west, travelling east

Cycling to work, rather than using public transport or driving, cuts a commuter’s risk of developing cancer and heart disease by almost half, according to research.

The University of Glasgow research, published in the BMJ, found cycling to work is associated with a 45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of heart disease compared to a “non-active commute”.

Commuters who cycled were associated with 41% lower risk of premature death. Walking to work was associated with a 36% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, but not cancer or premature death overall.

This study analysed data from 264,337 participants who were asked about their usual mode of commuting to work and then followed up for five years.

“These findings suggest that policies designed to make it easier for people to commute by bike, such as cycle lanes, city bike hire, subsidised cycle purchase schemes and increasing provision for cycles on public transport may present major opportunities for public health improvement,” said Jason Gill, a reader at Glasgow’s Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences.

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