Researchers at the University of Glasgow have determined that active commuting decreases the risk and mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer. The most effective mode of transportation to reap the benefits of injecting activity into daily life proved to be cycling.
Everyone is familiar with the myriad of reasons to make your commute to work an active one. The benefits are obvious- a daily exercise routine is recommended as a treatment for almost every common ailment, from mental health to immune system function. As active commuting has become a norm, especially in European countries, researchers have been able to draw real numbers from large data sets about its health benefits. Unsurprisingly, active commuting decreases the likelihood of the most common diseases (cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many more).
If you’re on the fence about making the switch to active commuting, you’ll want to learn more about the research done by a group at the University of Glasgow in the UK. They’ve examined which mode of transportation reaps the most benefits. The resounding winner is cycling.
A cohort study of over 2000 participants conducted over 5 years found that cycling was associated with decreased mortality and adverse effects of illnesses. Specifically, cycling decreased the risk of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as the likelihood of diseases-related fatalities. Walking had less poignant results, and was only associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. The worst mode of transportation for health was, of course, personal vehicle.
From a public health perspective, this type of research should be of great interest. Active commuting clearly reduces the two most common forms of mortality and burden on healthcare systems. This is especially important in North America, where poor diet and lack of physical activity (and corresponding cancer and cardiovascular disease) are highest in the developed world. Coincidentally, North America has one of the least pedestrian/cyclist friendly layouts in the world. Based on these findings, active-commuter-friendly policy should be top priority for public health and city planning.
Written By: Soleil Grisé, HBSc