Side view of cheerful young businessman looking at camera and smiling while riding on his bicycle

Active commutes good for your heart

It’s not always possible to walk or cycle to work. The nature of Australia’s growth is that jobs are often far removed from home and so a commute via car or public transport has become mandatory. However, if you can find a way to build some activity into your commute by getting off a stop or two away from your office and walking or cycling the rest of the way, then you will be doing good things for your heart.

This finding comes from a new study that involved 20,000 adults aged from 40 to their 60s who had their commuting habits, weight, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure measured. At the beginning of the study, active commuters, when compared to passive commuters (those who drove or used public transport), were 15 per cent less likely to be obese, 13 per cent less likely to have high blood pressure, 15 per cent less likely to have high cholesterol and 12 per cent less likely to have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

This might be scary if you are a passive commuter but the encouraging thing was that, after 10 years, subjects who changed from passive to active commuting (either walking or cycling) had significant improvements on these areas. After 10 years, those who had become active commuters had a 39 per cent reduced risk of obesity, 11 per cent reduction in rates of high blood pressure, a 20 per cent reduction in risk of high cholesterol and an 18 per cent reduction is risk of diabetes.

This means that making the swap from passive to active commuting may have prevented 24 per cent of obesity cases, 6 per cent of high blood pressure cases, 13 per cent of high cholesterol diagnoses and an 11 per cent reduction in the incidence of diabetes.

It’s never too late to benefit from getting active and, even if you do have a long way to go to get to work, there’s nothing saying that you have to drive or get off right at your office door. Get a little inventive and build some exercise into your commute; you have nothing to lose except your poor health.

Source: Journal of the American Heart Association

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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