One study found that cycling to work halved the risk of serious illness and early death. Researchers from the University of Glasgow in Scotland looked at the travel habits of more than 264,000 people in the UK and tracked their health for five years.
The results showed that cycling to work was associated with a 46% reduction in heart disease risk over 5 years and a 45% reduction in cancer risk. The risk of premature death was also reduced by 41%. Walking to work is also beneficial, but to a different extent.
The study found that walking was associated with a 27% lower risk of heart disease and a 36% lower risk of dying from heart disease. However, walking was not associated with a reduced risk of cancer or early death.
Research author Dr. Jason Gill said that policies that facilitate people’s use of bicycles can provide an opportunity to improve public health. Gill offers suggestions such as bike lanes, shared bikes, car buying assistance and increased amenities at public stops.
Cycling may offer greater health benefits than walking because cyclists travel longer distances, exercise more actively and are healthier than walkers, researchers say . For example, cyclists averaged 30 miles per week compared with 6 miles per week for walkers.
The study was published in the journal BMJ on April 20.