Walking or cycling to work post lockdown could prevent early death

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Encouraging people to walk or cycle to work as the Covid-19 lockdown eases could help them live longer and limit long-term health consequences of the pandemic, according to scientists in Cambridge.

Researchers have found that walking and cycling to work rather than driving may reduce the risk of early death from heart disease and cancer.

The findings are based on a study of more than 300,000 commuters in England and Wales over a period of 25 years and comes as the Government urges people to walk, cycle or drive to work to take the pressure off public transport.

20%

Cyclists reduced their rate of early death

Credit: PA

As large numbers of people begin to return to work as the Covid-19 lockdown eases, it is a good time for everyone to rethink their transport choices.

Dr Richard Patterson, from the University of Cambridge's MRC Epidemiology Unit

Scientists from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge found that compared with those travelling by car, people who cycled to work had an overall 20% reduced rate of early death.

When the figures were broken down, cyclists were found to have a 24% reduced rate of death from heart disease, a 16% reduced rate of death from cancer, and an 11% reduced rate of a cancer diagnosis, compared with drivers.

Walking to work was associated with a 7% reduced rate in cancer diagnosiscompared with driving, but the team said associations between walking and other outcomes, such as rates of death from cancer and heart disease, were less certain.

Those using the train were found to have a 10% reduced rate of early death. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Rail commuters had a 10% reduced rate of early death, a 20% reduced rate of death from cardiovascular disease, and a 12% reduced rate of cancer diagnosis, compared with drivers.

This is probably due to them walking or cycling to transit points, the researchers said, adding that rail commuters also tend to be more affluent and less likely to have other underlying conditions.

It's great to see that the Government is providing additional investment to encourage more walking and cycling during the post-lockdown period.

Senior study author Dr Anthony Laverty, from Imperial College London

The research did not take into account the differences in the study participants' additional physical activities, diet, history of smoking, andunderlying health conditions, but the team said their findings are compatiblewith evidence from other studies.

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