A daily bike ride to the office could halve your chance of a heart attack according to a major study by the University of Glasgow published in the British Medical Journal. The study tracked the health of more than a quarter of a million people over five years and concluded that cycling to work lowers the risk of dying early by as much as 41 per cent.
The study looked at 264,337 participants who were asked questions about their health and their usual mode of transport to work. New cases of cancer, heart attacks and death were correlated with the participants’ mode of commuting. Evidence emerged that those cycling to work had a 45 per cent lower risk of developing cancer and a 46 per cent lower risk of developing heart disease, compared to those with a non-active commute.
Walking to work was found to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 27 per cent and lowered the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 36 per cent. Walking, however, was not found to lower the risk of cancer or premature death as a whole. Researchers explained the difference in outcomes for walking and cycling due to the intensity of the activity and the distance covered.
Dr Carlos Celis-Morales, said: “Walking to work was associated with lower risk of heart disease, but unlike cycling was not associated with a significantly lower risk of cancer or overall death. This may be because walkers commuted shorter distances than cyclists – typically 6 miles per week, compared with 30 miles per week – and walking is generally a lower intensity of exercise than cycling.”
Researchers believe that government policies designed to make it easier for people to commute to work by bicycle, such as cycle lanes, city bike hire and subsidised cycle purchase schemes will have a positive impact on public health.
This is encouraging news for reducing the chances of developing a critical illness. Many people don’t like to face the idea of what would happen if they were to be diagnosed with a critical illness. Measures like cycling to work to increase life chances is one way of taking a pro-active approach. After all, prevention is better than cure. For peace of mind, income protection may also be worth considering to ensure your family are financially provided for in case you are faced with any critical illness.