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Fitness & Health

29th Apr 2019

Driving to work increases your risk of an early death by 32%

A new study has found that driving to work carries a 32% increased risk of early death. Scientists advise walking or cycling as a way of combating this

Alex Roberts

Driving Traffic Jam

If you cycle or walk to work, there is good news on the horizon

It is that your chances of an early death are significantly slashed. A new study found that people with obesity who commute to work by car – driving or as a passenger – have a 32% increased risk of early death. This is compared to people less overweight who commute via bike or on foot.

These findings are in keeping with previous research. Earlier studies found ‘active commuting’ (such as cycling) reduces the risk of early death by as much as 50%.

Scientists examined the link between active ways of getting to work and health problems. This becomes particularly important when you consider that 57% of men in the UK are classed as overweight or obese.

People were asked to report how they travelled to work, and were placed into the following groups:

  • Car commuters
  • Walking and cycling
  • Cycling only
  • Walking only

Compared with those who walked or cycled, car commuters with obesity had a 32% higher risk of premature death and a doubled risk of death from heart disease. Car commuters also had a 59% increased risk of being admitted to hospital with non-fatal heart disease.

Active commuting: on bike or foot

On a positive note, people with obesity who begin to walk or cycle to work do not experience the same risks.

  • Walking and cycling burn more calories. Combined with a calorie-controlled diet, this is likely to lead to weight loss
  • Walking and cycling are also effective ways of improving heart health, by boosting VO2 max and other types of cardio health markers

Scientists behind the study said: “Our findings suggest that people overweight or with obesity could potentially decrease the risk of premature mortality (early death) if they engage in active commuting.”

Those behind this study added that walking and cycling are also easily implemented into your daily routine, rarely coming with an additional cost to your bank balance or social life.

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