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Study links commuting decisions to heart health: Walk or cycle to affect cardiovascular risk

Study links commuting decisions to heart health: Walk or cycle to affect cardiovascular risk

There may be growing scientific evidence that energetic commuting, comparable to cycling and walking, positively affects overall health, including a reduced risk of heart problems (CVD), cancer, all-cause mortality, and improved mental health. Nonetheless, the precise mechanism by which energetic commuting influences health outcomes has yet to be elucidated.

Study: The association between commuting and heart problems: A biomarker-based evaluation of cross-sectional cohort data from the UK Biobank. Image Credit: Dean Dobot / Shutterstock.com

In regards to the study

In a recent article published within the journal Preventive Medicine, researchers estimate the influence of energetic and passive commuting modes on CVD outcomes based on relevant biomarker levels. Along with biomarker data obtained from 208,893 United Kingdom Biobank baseline survey participants, the researchers also examined how the intensity and variety of commuting altered CVD biomarker levels.

The eight biomarkers analyzed on this study included total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), apolipoprotein A and B, C-reactive protein (CRP), and lipoprotein a. For every biomarker, the researchers determined whether the respective value reflected an increased risk of developing CVD.

Within the cross-sectional U.K. Biobank survey, researchers recruited participants aged 40 to 69 between 2006 and 2010 from 22 centers in England, Scotland, and Wales. All recruited participants used various transportation modes to commute to work not less than once each week.

Each participant’s sociodemographic and health-related information was also provided, including biological parameters comparable to body fat and grip strength and lifestyle indicators like weight loss plan and physical activity levels.

Study findings

Of all 208,893 survey respondents, 165,540 used cars as a mode of transportation, while only 5,883 respondents repeatedly commuted to work by bicycle. Around 38% of bicycle commuters also engaged in cycling/walking of their free time, which was significantly greater than the 8% of automobile commuters who regularly participated in these activities.

Study participants who regularly walked to work were related to a significantly lower risk of low HDL and apolipoprotein A as in comparison with those that drove to work. Comparatively, cycling to work was related to a lower risk for prime triglycerides, low apolipoprotein A, high or low apolipoprotein B, and high CRP levels.

When the researchers increased the commuting time for passive commuters by a further 10 miles each week, their relative risk of high total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides levels increased, in addition to their risk of low apolipoprotein A and high/low apolipoprotein B levels.

Comparatively, every additional mile added to the commute of those that regularly walked to work further lowered their risk of high triglycerides. Any additional miles didn’t alter the projected biomarker levels for individuals who cycled or used public transportation.

About 16% of bicycle commuters never ate processed meat as in comparison with 10% of automobile commuters, thus suggesting even the dietary habits of those individuals were also significantly different. Furthermore, cycling commuters covered a mean of 34 miles each week and burnt as much as 2,000 additional kcal, depending on the intensity of their cycling that day.

One other personal factor that impacted the outcomes was the person’s waist-to-hip ratio. To this end, those with a better waist-to-hip ratio, in addition to those that were currently prescribed CVD medication, were less more likely to cycle or walk to work.


The study findings exhibit that each walking and cycling to work are related to significant cardiovascular health advantages. The correlation of those health advantages to certain biomarker levels suggests a mechanism by which physical activity reduces CVD incidence and mortality.

CVD biomarker levels didn’t differ significantly between those that took public transportation, including buses, subways, and trains. Along with commuting mode and distance, other aspects, comparable to the standard of public transport, work-time arrangements, climate, and even childcare facilities. could contribute to the health effects related to different commuting practices. Subsequently, more research is required to raised understand how commuting by public transport and other aspects may impact physical health.

One in every of the important thing strengths of this study is its large sample size and the wide selection of biomarkers that were used. Nevertheless, the cross-sectional nature of this study, combined with the potential impact of certain residual confounding aspects, are essential limitations to those findings.

Journal reference:

  • Kaiser, M., Bauer, J. M., Otterbach, S., et al. (2023). The association between commuting and heart problems: A biomarker-based evaluation of cross-sectional cohort data from the UK Biobank. Preventive Medicine. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2023.107521


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