While we might make jokes about the guys that turn up to the office in their cycling lycra (or even be the lycra lovers in the elevators), an active commute to work can make a huge difference to our health.
A recent study published by the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) has looked at potential links between how people commute to work and incidences of cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality.
Recruiting over 260,000 participants in the study, participants were asked whether they actively commuted to work, for example, walking or cycling, or whether they were non-active, including driving or taking public transport.
What the study found was that when compared to non-active commuters, cycle commuting was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality, while walking to work lowered your risk of cardiovascular disease.
The data also showed greater health benefits for those with a longer active commute.
In a statement, prof Lars Bo Andersen stated that “Physical inactivity increases the risk of many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.” It’s well known that being active can reduce your risk, but deciding to pick up a bike and ride to work can be hard to do as an individual.
“The findings from this study are a clear call for political action on active commuting, which has the potential to improve public health by preventing common (and costly) non-communicable diseases,” said Prof Andersen. “A shift from car to more active modes of travel will also decrease traffic in congested city centres and help reduce air pollution, with further benefits for health.”