A study published in the British Medical Journal this week has concluded that cycling for transport can cut the risk of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%.
Titled Association between active commuting and incident cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality, the research pins cycling down as the most beneficial form of travel for human health, outlining that the further a person cycles in a week the greater perk to health.
Carried out over five years and taking in data from 263,450 UK commuters (48% male, 52% women, mean age 52.6), the researchers demonstrated that the reason cycling cuts cancer risk is highly unlikely to be associated with weight loss. The effect remained even after adjusting the data to account for smoking, diet and weight.
Speaking to the BBC, researcher Dr Jason Gill 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.”
Those pairing cycling with public transport also showed measurable health benefits, with those who regularly cycle found to be 41% at lower risk of death by any cause.
In its conclusion the study recommends Governments get moving on building for a future of active travel. It states; Cycle commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD, cancer, and all cause mortality. Walking commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD independent of major measured confounding factors. Initiatives to encourage and support active commuting could reduce risk of death and the burden of important chronic conditions.