Cycling to work: choose a life-extending strategy

Lead researcher Caroline Shaw from the Department of Public Health at New Zealand's Otago University, Wellington, says that people who cycled to work had a 13 percent mortality rate during the study. This could probably be due to the health benefits of physical activity. There was no reduction in mortality for those who walked or used public transport to get to work.

Cycling to work as a healthy alternative

young man with bike smiles

The researchers used data from the New Zealand census mortality study. They then linked them together to carry out follow-up studies three to five years later, from 1996, 2001 and 2006. Respondents should answer the following: “On the X date, what was the only way you went to work? Does that mean the means of transport that you used for the greatest distance? “

According to the study author, the experiment, which analyzed data from 3.5 million New Zealanders, is one of the largest cohort studies ever conducted to investigate the relationship between the type of travel to work and mortality results.

“We studied 80 percent of the working-age population in New Zealand over a 15-year period. For this reason, it is very representative. “

According to the researchers, the expansion of “active transport” is promoted as a means of dealing with health and environmental problems. However, the relationship between different modes of transport such as cycling, walking, public transport and the health consequences remains unclear. The study found that more than 80 percent of New Zealanders drove to work on the day of the census. Only five percent were on foot and three percent by bike.

“There were gender differences in the way people travel to work. Two percent of women compared to four percent of men ride bicycles. Even more women (seven percent) walk or jog compared to men (five percent). A higher proportion of younger people use bicycles, walk or use public transport. “

data analysis

Businessmen cycling to work during the day

Dr. Shaw says the census data didn't provide details about the physical intensity of the commute. So those who lived downtown and walked 200 meters to work belonged to the same category as those who walked up and down a hill quickly for 30 minutes.

“We have seen no increase in deaths from walking and cycling related to road accidents, although the New Zealand transport system was heavily auto-dominated at the time of these studies and roads have rarely taken pedestrians and cyclists into account.”

Dr. Shaw said the results support initiatives to increase the number of people cycling to work.

“In order to improve cycling to get to work in a country with low cycling traffic like New Zealand, measures are needed that target both traffic and urban planning. These would be, for example, the increasing residential density and implementation of cycle paths.

While the study found no link between walking or traveling to work by public transport and a reduction in mortality, Dr. Shaw has other reasons for promoting these modes of transport.

“Going to work has health benefits other than reducing mortality, including preventing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The advantage of using public transport is that less carbon is emitted, ”the study says.

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