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The Benefits of Biking to Work

Yet another study backs the health benefits associated with cycling to work. (Added bonus: Avoiding a crowded subway or rush-hour traffic.)

By
Brock Armstrong,

Photo of cyclists commuting to work

Recently in the UK, 263,450 participants (52% female and 48% male with an average age of 52.6) were asked what mode of transportation they used (walking, cycling, car, or public transport) to commute to and from work on a typical day. The researchers then measured the incidents of fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular disease, cancer, or any causes of death among the participants over the next five years. The results were published in the British Medical Journal

At the end of that five years, the researchers concluded that cycle commuting was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality.

If I invented a fancy vitamin drink that cut your risk of dying in half, I would be a multi-millionaire!

The study's authors wrote that “Cycle commuters had a 52 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease and a 40 percent lower risk of dying from cancer. They also had 46 percent lower risk of developing heart disease and a 45 percent lower risk of developing cancer at all.” I like those odds!

Not to be crass but if I invented a fancy vitamin drink that cut your risk of dying in half, I would be a multi-millionaire! Right? So, why the heck aren't more people riding their bikes?

Bike Accidents?

Well, you are probably thinking, "That's great, Brock, as long as I don't get hit by a car!" But the joke's on you (so to speak). The researchers included the risk of car accidents in the study. So, yes indeed this study gives us even more evidence that even the "risks" of riding a bike get outweighed by the benefits of being a pedal-estrian.

If you are still skeptical, you can check out some of the protests that are happening in Australia and New Zealand that hammer home the message that the guaranteed health benefits of cycling simply outweigh any of the possible risks of injury. Those folks down under are taking it a step farther than I am willing to go by advocating for less strict helmet laws as a way to encourage more people to ride. To that, I say "get over it" and do both. You're riding to work, not twerking at the club. Plus there are some pretty badass looking helmets available these days. 

Make Exercise Part of your Day

Once again we see the benefits of making movement, exercise, and activity part of your day-to-day life.

The notion that takes the results of this study to the next level for me is that they only included people who were commuting to and from work on a bike, not just going out for a ride on the weekend or hitting the stationary bike at the gym. These were people who were building the fitness, cardio, stress relieving, fresh-air breathing, leg stretching, carbon footprint reducing, wind-in-your-face aspects of cycling into their daily life. Which is something I have written about in the past

So, once again we see the added benefits of making movement, exercise, and activity part of your day-to-day life over simply hitting the gym. Which, for me, reinforces the benefits of doing both.

Live an active life for your health and hit the gym for your biceps.

For more fitness info, commuting tips, and to join the cycling conversation, visit Facebook.com/GetFitGuy or twitter.com/getfitguy. Also don't forget to subscribe to the Get-Fit Guy podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Spotify, Google Play or via RSS.

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