Don’t drive, cycle, you’ll live longer, say scientists.
World Obesity Federation
Individuals with obesity who commute by car have a 32% higher risk of death compared with those individuals with a normal weight who have active commutes, such as those who cycle. That’s the finding of a new analysis of anonymised health stats from more than 160,000 British people presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity which is being staged in Glasgow, Scotland, until 1st May.
Scientists at the British Heart Foundation Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Glasgow examined data on selected participants in the U.K. Biobank who reported they commuted to work by car, on foot, or by bicycle.
Data from 163,149 Biobank participants, who have been followed up for 5 years, was used in the analysis. Active commuting to and from work was self-reported and people classified as car commuters, walking and cycling, cycling-only and walking-only. The age range was 37 to 73 years, and 50.8% were women.
Lead investigator Dr Carlos Celis reported that compared with having a healthy body weight and reported mixed active commuting, being obese combined with car commuting was associated with a 32% higher risk for premature death, a doubling of risk of heart disease mortality and a 59% increase in risk non-fatal heart diseases.
Cycle – it’s smiles better.
World Obesity Federation
In contrast, those people with obesity who reported being active commuters had a risk of death from any cause that was similar to normal weight active commuters, suggesting that cycling or walking to and from work could reduce the detrimental effect of obesity. However, the risk of heart disease was still increased by 82% in active commuters with obesity compared with normal weight active commuters.
The study concludes:
Regardless of your body weight, being physically active could partly reduce the excess risk associated with obesity. However, compared to other forms of physical activity – such as gyms and exercises classes – active commuting can be implemented and fitted within our daily routines, often with no additional cost, but at the same time could increase our overall physical activity levels and therefore help to meet the current physical activity recommendations for health.”
As has been found by many previous studies, cycle commuting is good for all. A 2017 analysis of 263 450 U.K. Biobank adults who reported cycling to and from work compared with those who reported using cars or public transport had a 52% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.
57% of men and 66% of women in the U.K. are overweight or obese.