Biking to work linked to reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and early death

A recent study suggests that bicycle commuting, like recreational cycling, is not only associated with a lower risk of serious disease, but with a longer life as well. For that study, researchers from the University of Glasgow followed more than 263,450 commuters in England, Scotland, and Wales for an average of five years. The group was composed of 52% women and 48% men ages 40 through 69.

The researchers divided the participants into five groups based on how they got to and from work on a typical day — walking, cycling, riding in a car or on public transportation, mixed walking (a combination of walking and riding), and mixed cycling (cycling and riding). They found that compared with riding to work, bike commuting was associated with a lower risk of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or cancer, or dying of any cause during the five-year period. Walking was associated with a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Joining the bike commute

If you’re thinking of biking to work, the following can help to make your commute safer.

  • Protect yourself. Wear a properly fitted helmet and clothing that is appropriate for the weather. Wear reflective gear at night and in cloudy weather.
  • Maintain your bike. Make sure your bike fits you and that it is fit for road conditions. Mount a white light on the front of your bike and a red light on the back for night cycling.
  • Learn and follow the rules of the road. Most states require bicyclists to follow the same rules as drivers of other vehicles. You can find the rules of the road for most states here.
  • Communicate with those who share the road with you. Make eye contact and use hand signals to indicate what you’re about to do. The simplest gestures, like extending your right or left arm out to signal a turn, can avert a collision.

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