Published on 1st April 2017


There are plenty of reasons to embrace national walking month this May, but if you’re looking to stay healthy, you might want to put some pedal power into your daily commute. That’s because, according to research from the University of Glasgow published in the BMJ,1 cycling to work is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer and all-cause mortality (death from any cause), when compared with commuting by car or public transport.

Involving more than 200,000 participants aged 40-69 from across the UK, the study found that in comparison to those who were non-active, participants who cycled to work had a 41 per cent lower risk of all-cause mortality, a 52 per cent lower risk of death from CVD and a 40 per cent lower risk of death from cancer. They were also 46 and 45 per cent less likely to have a CVD or cancer event, respectively. Walking to work was also found to be beneficial, but was only associated with a reduced risk of CVD.

Although cycling could simply be viewed as an indicator of a healthier lifestyle overall, confounding factors such as age, general activity, health, smoking habits and diet were also taken into consideration.

The authors concluded that population health may be improved by policies that made cycling easier - such as the creation of cycle lanes, availability of cycle hire or purchase schemes, and better provision for cycles on public transport.

Only this month, a government draft cycling and walking investment strategy proposed a £1.2 billion long-term plan to “make walking and cycling a normal part of everyday life, and the natural choices for shorter journeys such as going to school, college or work, travelling to the station, and for simple enjoyment”.2 As part of its plan, the government says it wants more people to have access to safe, attractive routes for cycling and walking by 2040.

If you’re looking for ways to get started, there is a growing number of apps available for plotting the best routes. For London, Transport for London has cycling guides available online via whilst some bike shops may also be able to recommend maps or guides for your area.


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  1. BMJ 2017;357:j1456 | doi: 10.1136/bmj.j1456