A team of researchers at Glasgow University have conducted the largest study into the health benefits of cycling to work using UK Biobank data. Findings suggest using two wheels halves of the risk of cancer and heart disease.
The five-year study of 250,000 UK Biobank commuters also showed walking had some benefits over sitting on public transport or taking the car.
The team in Glasgow said cycling took no willpower once it became part of the work routine – unlike going to the gym.
The five-year study compared people who had an “active” commute with those who were mostly stationary.
Overall, 2,430 of those studied died, 3,748 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,110 had heart problems. But, during the course of the study, regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%.
The cyclists clocked an average of 30 miles per week, but the further they cycled the greater the health benefit.
Walking cut the odds of developing heart disease but the benefit was mostly for people walking more than six miles per week.
Dr Jason Gill, one of the researchers said “This is really clear evidence that people who commute in an active way, particularly by cycling, were at lower risk”.
“You need to get to work every day so if you built cycling into the day it essentially takes willpower out of the equation.
“What we really need to do is change our infrastructure to make it easier to cycle – we need bike lanes, to make it easier to put bikes on trains, showers at work.”
People who combined cycling and public transport in their commute also showed health benefits