Cycling Reduces Cardiovascular Disease

Cycling Reduces Cardiovascular Disease
Cycling Reduces Cardiovascular Disease

The BMJ (British Medical Journal) has reported on a Quarter of a Million people study which shows Cycling reduces Cardiovascular Disease.

The researchers from the University of Glasgow followed 263,450 people in England, Wales and Scotland for 5 years. 52% were women and 48% men, who were in paid employment or self-employed and did not always work at home.

The exposure variable was the mode of transport used (non-active, cycling, walking, or mixed) to commute to work. A range of sociodemographic factors was taken into account. These included sex, age, deprivation index, and ethnicity. Other factors such as smoking status, body mass index, leisure time, occupational and DIY physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and dietary intake were treated as potential “confounders”.

Participants in the study were asked “In a typical day, what types of transport do you use to get to and from work?”  They could select one or more of the following options: car/motor vehicle, walk, public transport, and cycle. The researchers derived five commuting categories:

  1. non-active (car/motor vehicle and/or public transport only);
  2. walking only;
  3. cycling (cycling, or cycling and walking);
  4. mixed mode walking (non-active plus walking);
  5. mixed mode cycling (non-active plus cycling, or non-active plus cycling and walking).

For walking only and cycling, they estimated the weekly commuting distance by doubling the single commuting distance to get a round trip distance. This was then multiplied by the weekly number of round trips reported.

Perhaps predictably, cycling commuters had the highest levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, followed by mixed-mode cycling commuters. Compared with non-active commuters, walking commuters had higher physical activity but not cardiorespiratory fitness.

Cycling reduces Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), cancer, and all-cause mortality. Walking commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD.

Benefits of Cycling Outweigh The Risks

“The benefits of regular physical activity are well documented, but there have been concerns that traffic crashes may negate the benefits from commuting by bicycle,” says Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a bicycle commuter himself. “This study is important because it confirms, with a much larger sample size, previous findings from other countries. Moreover, it shows that the benefits strongly outweigh the risks.”

One of these other studies featured on SpyCycle some months back, where Dutch data shows that Dutch cyclists live longer.


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