Want to live longer? Bike to work

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Extending your life might be as simple as changing your commute.

A new study found that both walking and biking to work have health benefits. However, cycling can lead to dramatic decreases in cancer, heart disease and early death.

The benefits of pedal power

People everywhere are less physically active than they used to be. One reason is that fewer people are walking or biking to work—what’s known as active commuting.

Researchers studied the commuting habits of more than 260,000 workers and tracked their health for five years. They found that compared to people who didn’t have an active commute, cyclists had:

  • A 41 percent lower risk of premature death.
  • A 45 percent lower risk of developing cancer.
  • A 46 percent lower risk of heart disease.

For people who walked to work, the benefits were also positive, but not quite as pronounced. Walking was linked to a 27 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. However, walking to work didn’t decrease the risk of cancer or early death.

Active commuting had a positive effect on people regardless of numerous factors, including their sex, age, ethnicity, and smoking and eating habits.

Want to learn more? Check out the study in the journal BMJ.

Cycling safety

It’s hard to forget how to ride a bike, but it’s easy to overlook basic bike safety. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers these tips to make cycling successful:

  • Helmet up. Always wear a helmet, and make sure it fits properly.
  • Follow the rules of the road. All states require cyclists to follow the same rules as motorists.
  • Choose the right bike. Make sure it fits you and operates well.
  • Dress the part. Wear clothing that makes you visible. Tie shoe laces, and tuck pant legs so they stay clear of the bike chain.
  • Stow and go. Carry all of your items safely in a backpack or strapped to the back of the bike.
  • Plan ahead. Consider the best route before you head out. Opt for less traffic and slower speeds.

Learn more with this interactive bike safety tool.



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