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Do Your Heart a Favor: Bike, Walk to Work

Jun 01, 2021
Do Your Heart a Favor: Bike, Walk to Work
Leave your car in the garage if you can: A new study suggests that walking or biking to work could cut your risk of a heart attack. The researchers analyzed 2011 data from 43 million working adults in England and found that 11.4 percent...

Leave your car in the garage if you can: A new study suggests that walking or biking to work could cut your risk of a heart attack.

The researchers analyzed 2011 data from 43 million working adults in England and found that 11.4 percent were active commuters, with 8.6 percent walking to work and 2.8 percent cycling to work.

In areas where walking or cycling to work were more common in 2011, the incidence of heart attacks fell among men and women over the next two years.

Major heart disease risk factors include inactivity, being overweight, smoking and diabetes, the study authors noted.

After adjusting for those factors, the investigators found that women who walked to work in 2011 had a 1.7 percent lower risk of heart attack in the following year, and men who cycled to work had the same reduction in heart attack risk.

The University of Leeds study was published online recently in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

The findings show “that exercise as a means of commuting to work is associated with lower levels of heart attack. The benefits of regular exercise are numerous and we

support initiatives to help everyone become and stay active,” a university news release said.

Lead author Chris Gale added, “Whilst we cannot conclusively say that active travel to work lowers the risk of heart attack, the study is indicative of such a relationship.”

“Greater efforts by national and local policy makers to improve the uptake of cycling and walking to work are likely to be rewarded by future improvements in population-based health,” the news release said.

“The effect of active commuting is fairly modest when compared with the stronger determinants of cardiovascular health such as smoking, obesity, diabetes and regular exercise. However, this study clearly suggests that exercising on the way to work has the potential to bring nationwide improvements to health and well-being,” the news release concluded.

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