Cycling to work 'almost halves risk of cancer and heart disease'

Cycling to work cuts the risk of heart disease and cancer a study suggests

Image The study found cyclists have a 41% lower risk of premature death from any cause

It was found that regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41 percent, the incidence of cancer by 45 percent and heart disease by 46 percent. "The UK has neglected to build infrastructure to promote cycling for decades", writes Andersen, who suggests we follow in the footsteps of bike-friendly cities like Copenhagen, where "no vehicle or bus can travel faster than a bike", the latter of which is the preferred mode of transport for over "40 per cent of all commuter trips".

Experts behind the research, which studied 264,337 people, are now calling for a "change" in policy, such as building more cycle lanes, to prevent long-term illnesses.

"You need to get to work every day so if you built cycling into the day it essentially takes willpower out of the equation".

There's a lot of potential to increase cycling and improve health in North America, which generally resembles the United Kingdom levels, said editorial author Lars Bo Andersen.

The World Health Organisation has labelled diesel fumes a "definite carcinogen" and they are believed to cause lung cancer.

Concerns over vehicle emissions are leading British cities to bring in ever-tighter traffic restrictions.

People who got to work by motor vehicle, but biked for a portion of the commute also showed some benefit. But commuting by bike also reduced the risk of getting cancer, as well as other risks.

Adults who walked to work - typically six miles a week - were 27 per cent less likely to develop heart disease than those who drove or took public transport. However, the walking wasn't enough to fend off cancer and other serious health problems, researchers noted.

We then grouped our commuters into five categories: non-active (car/public transport); walking only; cycling (including some who also walked); mixed-mode walking (walking plus non-active); and mixed-mode cycling (cycling plus non-active, including some who also walked).

Walking is also associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but the risk of death from cancer was no different than non-active commuting, the results show.

Dr Jason Gill, from the institute of cardiovascular and medical sciences at Glasgow, said the Government needs to look at ways to make it easier for people to commute by bike, such as creating "cycle lanes, city bike hire, subsidised cycle purchase schemes and increasing provision for cycles on public transport". "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.

For both cyclists and walkers, there was a trend for a greater lowering of risk in those who commuted longer distances. Only three per cent of commuters cycle to work and 11% walk, one of the lowest rates in Europe.

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