Cycling to work cuts the risk of developing heart disease and cancer by almost half, research suggests.
Walking to work is also good for you, although it doesn’t offer the same benefits as taking a bike, according to experts from the University of Glasgow.
The new study of 264,337 people – 52 per cent of whom were women – found cycling to work is linked to a 45 per cent lower risk of developing cancer and a 46 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to driving to work or taking public transport.
Overall, cyclists had a 41 per cent lower risk of premature death from any cause.
Walking to work was also associated with a 27 per cent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 36 per cent lower risk of dying from it.
People who preferred to stroll to work also had to walk for two hours a week in total to see health benefits, at an average speed of three miles per hour.
Experts behind the study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), said the lower benefits seen for walking compared to cycling could be down to several factors.
These include the fact cyclists covered longer distances in their commutes than the walkers, cycling is a higher intensity exercise and cyclists were generally more fit.
Dr Carlos Celis-Morales, from the University of Glasgow, said: “Walking to work was associated with lower risk of heart disease, but unlike cycling was not associated with a significantly lower risk of cancer or overall death.–
“This may be because walkers commuted shorter distances than cyclists, typically six miles per week, compared with 30 miles per week, and walking is generally a lower intensity of exercise than cycling.”
The study also found some health benefits if people cycled part of their journey and took public transport or drove the rest of the way.