Research shows cycling improves mortality rates
We all know that cycling—any exercise, really—is good for you. Two new studies confirm that even a modest amount of regular exercise could save your life.
Exercise appears to have an even stronger impact on longevity than maintaining a healthy weight does (although both are important for optimal health). Obese individuals who are physically active have a nearly 50 percent lower mortality rate than non-obese individuals who are sedentary, according to Cambridge University research published in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study tracked the exercise habits, body mass indices, and lifespans of 334,161 people over a period of 12 years, and concluded that 676,000 deaths per year were caused by inactivity, compared with 337,000 attributed to obesity.
Researcher and Cambridge University Professor Ulf Ekelund told BBC News that “eliminating inactivity in Europe would cut mortality rates by nearly 7.5 percent.”
If that’s not reason enough to get off the couch, preliminary results from research underway in Stockholm suggest that if 110,000 more people in the city commuted by bike (based on the number of residents who live within a 30-minute bike ride from work but commute by car), at least 80 lives would be saved each year.
The study, led by Peter Schantz, finds that the resulting decrease in air pollution would be more effective in reducing deaths due to pollution-related health problems than building a proposed vehicle bypass around the city. Add in the health benefits of cycling, as illustrated by the Cambridge study, and a small increase in bike commuting within a city could have a significant impact on the average lifespan of its residents.
The message from both of these studies is clear: Just get out and ride, even if you don’t have time for a three-hour adventure.