Intended for healthcare professionals


Active commuting is beneficial for health

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 19 April 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j1740
  1. Lars Bo Andersen, professor
  1. Department of Teacher Education and Sport, Western Norwegian University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, Norway

Governments should do all they can to encourage commuters to cycle or walk

Physical inactivity increases the risk of many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.1 Many adults are not attracted to sports and other leisure time physical activities but may be motivated to integrate physical activity into their everyday lives. Commuting by walking and cycling are such activities. In Denmark, cycling is embedded in the national culture for two reasons: it is easier to navigate cities by bicycle than by car, and taxation on new cars is punitive.

A link between cycling and health benefits has been clear for some years—my colleagues and I first reported in 2000 that all cause mortality was 30% lower in cyclists compared with non-cyclists after multivariate adjustment.2 Since then, many studies have consistently reported lower rates of cardiovascular disease,34 type 2 diabetes,5 cancers,4 and mortality6 associated with cycling compared with not cycling. Other studies …

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