Get on your bike for a healthy future


NOW SUMMER is getting closer, the tourists are arriving and the roads are getting busier and busier. Short journeys that normally take a few minutes, can take two or three times as long.

And then there’s the perennial problem of parking. You can drive around for hours, but can you find a space? Probably not!

Hop on a bus? You could try. But the buses are also busier with more tourists and visitors and of course they also use the same roads as the extra cars, so journey times are protracted.

So, what’s the answer, if you need to get to work and don’t want to leave home earlier in the morning and get home later at night.

Why not buy a bike and cycle to and from your daily toil? It could be just as quick as queuing in traffic, will be infinitely cheaper, you’ll probably shed a few kilos, it will also be less stressful and according to a new study, actually be extremely beneficial for your health, helping to guard against heart disease and cancer amongst other illnesses.

Cycling to work cuts the risk of developing heart disease and Cancer by almost half, research suggests.

Walking to work is also good for you, although it does not offer the same benefits as taking a bike, experts from the University of Glasgow found.

The new study on 264,337 people, 52% of whom were women, found cycling to work is linked to a 45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to driving to work or taking public transport.

Overall, cyclists had a 41% lower risk of premature death from any cause.

Walking to work was also associated with a 27% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 36% lower risk of dying from it but there was no link with a lower risk of cancer or dying early from any cause in walkers, the study found.

People who preferred to stroll to work also had to walk for two hours a week in total to see health benefits, at an average speed of three miles per hour.

Experts behind the study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), said the lower benefits seen for walking compared to cycling could be down to several factors.

These include the fact cyclists covered longer distances in their commutes than the walkers, cycling is a higher intensity exercise and cyclists were generally more fit.

Dr Carlos Celis-Morales, from the University of Glasgow, 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 six miles per week, compared with 30 miles per week, and walking is generally a lower intensity of exercise than cycling.”

The study also found some health benefits if people cycled part of their journey and took public transport or drove the rest of the way.

The people taking part in the research were aged 52 on average at the start of the study and were followed for five years.

Some 2,430 people died during the study period, with 496 deaths related to cardiovascular disease, which covers all diseases of the heart and circulation, and 1,126 deaths from cancer.

Overall, 3,748 people developed cancer over the five years, and 1,110 had an event related to cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke.

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”.

These would create “major opportunities for public health improvement,” he added.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Commuting to work by walking, or better still, cycling, is a great way to combine physical activity into your normal daily routine.

“This study shows that people who cycle to work or walk for two hours a week have a significantly reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.

“It is paramount to make physical activity easier and more accessible if we are to reduce the burden of ill health caused by inactivity. Local authorities and workplaces should support this by making using active transport as a means to get to work an easy option.”

© No part of this web site may be reproduced without written permission from the publishers. All rights reserved. Todos los derechos reservados.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

We welcome comments from readers on our website and across our social networks. We invite you to discuss issues and share your views and we encourage robust debate and criticism provided it is civil.

However we reserve the right to reject or edit comments that:

• Contain offensive language
• Include personal attacks of any kind
• Are likely to offend or target any ethnic, racial, nationality or religious group
• Are homophobic, transphobic, sexist, offensive or obscene
• Contain spam or include links to other sites
• Are clearly off topic
• Impersonate an individual or organisation, are fraudulent, defamatory of any person, threatening or invasive of another’s privacy or otherwise illegal
• Are trolling or threatening
• Promote, advertise or solicit the sale of any goods or services

You grant us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide licence to republish any material you submit to us, without limitation, in any format.