Choosing to walk or cycle post the pandemic lockdown can prevent early disease: Study

When was the last time you chose to walk or cycle instead of driving around? Research says it can actually save us from getting an early illness.
Outdoor cycling
Outdoor cycling has its own set of health benefits. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Team Health Shots Published: 21 May 2020, 11:29 am IST
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What do your post-lockdown workout plans look like? It’s time to add a long stroll or a cycling sesh to the list. But only after it gets safe to get outside, ladies! A new study found that walking and cycling actually reduces the risk of early illness or death. 

The impact of chosen transport on our health
A study by Lancet Planetary Health conducted research on more than 300,000 commuters in England and Wales. The extensive study suggested that an increased transport choice of walking and cycling post-lockdown may reduce deaths from heart disease and cancer.

 The study further stated that those who travel by car are at higher risk of getting early illness or death.  

walking and cycling
Give cycling a shot after it gets safe,ladies. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Comparatively, those who cycled to work had a 20%  lesser risk of early death and a 24%  reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease. During the study period, the possible risk of participants dying from cancer reduced by a whopping 16%.

Can walking to work actually save you from getting cancer?
Compared to those who drive to work, walking to work reduced the chances of cancer diagnosis by seven percent. Although researchers stated that the associations between walking and other outcomes, such as rates of death from cancer and heart disease, were less certain. 

One of the reasons for its uncertain associations could be that people who choose to walk rather than drive to work might be in less affluent occupations.  They are more likely to have underlying health conditions that could not be fully accounted for in the research.

What about those who travel by the metro?
The study revealed that rail commuters had a 10% reduced chance of early death and a 20% reduced rate of death from cardiovascular disease. They are also likely to reduce their chances of a cancer diagnosis by 12%.

Can it actually reduce your health risks?
Although it can be a positive factor in sustaining good health, it can’t completely nullify health risks. Rail commuters tend to be more affluent and less likely to have other underlying conditions.

The takeaway?
Dr. Richard Patterson from the University of Cambridge stated, “ As large numbers of people begin to return to work as the COVID-19 lockdown eases, it is a good time for everyone to rethink their transport choices”.

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walking and cyling
Longer and healthier life is just a 30-minute walk away. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The pandemic’s biggest upside is that it has reminded us of the choices we make to keep us healthy. It’s time for all of us to re-question the times we could have walked or cycle instead of taking the car out.

After it becomes safe for us to travel, remember to grab your running shoes or cycle instead of car keys whenever you can.

(inputs from IANS)

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