If you thought cycling was good for you, we bet you didn’t know just how good! A new study has revealed the benefits of cycling go far beyond just feeling good and losing a few pounds.
Scientists suggest that cycling to work could reduce your risk of cancer by 45 per cent. In addition to this it could cut the risk of death by heart disease by 46 per cent.
A five-year study tracked 250,000 UK commuters. It showed that while walking had some benefits over taking public transport or using a car, cycling was the best. It compared “active” commuters” with those who were mostly stationary.
The people taking part were, on average, aged 52 at the start of the study. Their progress was then tracked for the next five years.
During the course of the study 37 people from the cycling group died (not from the study, it must be stated). However, the researchers said that their findings suggest that of this group, 63 people would have died if they had commuted by car or public transport rather than by bike. The results were true for men and women.
On average the participants cycled 30 miles per week. The further they cycled the greater the health benefits. Walking did help cut the chance of developing heart disease but the benefits were only really seen in people walking more than six miles per week. The scientists suggest that the extra distance covered by cycling is what makes it more beneficial than walking.
Dr Jason Gill from the University of Glasgow, spoke with the BBC and 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.”
Dr Gill added: “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.”
The study was published din the British Medical Journal. However, it is not possible to determine a clear cause and effect from the study due to how it was carried out. The statistics were adjusted to remove the effects of other potential explanations like smoking, diet and weight. This shows that the reduced risk of cancer was not caused by weight loss.