Alastor Moody


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Cycling cuts cancer risk

Most of us know that the risk of getting ill is reduced when we look after ourselves. Taking regular exercise has proven to be good for our health and scientists have found that the risk of getting cancer and heart disease is reduced when we take part in physical activity – and now they've found cycling to work is one of the best activities to do this. Well, good news for me then!

The biggest study into the issue, linked using two wheels with a halving of the risk of cancer and heart disease. The five-year study of 250,000 UK commuters also showed walking had some benefits over sitting on public transport or taking the car.

Pedalling to work is already popular in many cities across the world. Some forward-thinking authorities have built cycle lanes to make the commute safer, as well as providing secure places to lock them up. Some companies also provide facilities for their employees to get changed and cleaned up when they arrive at work. It all makes good sense - according to people surveyed in this study, regular cycling cut the risk of death from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46%.

For me, cycling to work is quicker and cheaper than using public transport and it's my only form of exercise. And whereas going to the gym to lose a few pounds takes effort and commitment, cycling has just become part of the work routine. Clare Hyde from Cancer Research UK says "This study helps to highlight the potential benefits of building activity into your everyday life. Anything that gets you a bit hot and out of breath … can help make a difference."

But what exactly is it that is making cycling a much healthier option? The research, published in the British Medical Journal, found it wasn't the result of weight loss but it could be that cyclists are leaner and have lower levels of inflammation in the body.

Of course, any exercise is good for you but it's thought that cycling is better than walking because the activity is longer and more intense. Dr Jason Gill, from the University of Glasgow, told the BBC "You need to get to work every day so if you built cycling into the day it essentially takes willpower out of the equation."  For me, it's the best and most enjoyable workout I can have – and I don't need to wear skin-tight lycra clothes, as long as I wear the most important accessory, a helmet.