What does your morning look like? Are you starting the day with some physical activity or is your morning a sedentary affair spent mostly sitting?
A recent study carried out by the University of Glasgow of more than 250,000 people found that those who cycled to work had a staggering 46% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 45% lower risk of developing cancer than those who drove to work or took public transport.
The researchers concluded that the cyclists have a 40% lower risk of premature death compared to their sedentary peers.
How does this compare to walking to work?
Well, in the study walking to work was associated with a 27% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease but was not associated to a reduction of cancer or premature death overall.
According to the researchers, walkers typically covered 6 miles per week compared to 30 miles for the cyclists and this difference plus the increased intensity could be why the cyclists had greater benefits.
What about the risks of cycling to work?
Although the study is promising, there are a few critical aspects to consider:
- How safe if your commute? Do you live in a densely populated city with busy roads which are accident prone?
- How polluted is your city and can you lower your intake of dangerous carbon emissions?
This study was based in Scotland, so under a vastly different environment to say London or Paris which are much more polluted and potentially more dangerous.
Keep these factors in mind if they apply!
What if you can’t or don’t want to cycle to work?
What made the cyclists outperform their walking or sedentary peers was not necessarily the act of cycling, but the intensity and length of their exercise activity.
If you want to get similar benefits opt for a morning activity which raises your heart rate for extended periods of time. Rowing, indoor cycling, running, body weight exercises, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and swimming are all great alternatives too.
Our key takeaway
High intensity exercise, whether it’s cycling, running, rowing or any form of physical exercise which raises your heart rate not only releases endorphins making you feel great after the workout, but can help you live longer lowering your disease risk significantly.
That said exercising in the morning is not easy, and developing the habit can feel like pushing against your will daily.
But If you want to live longer with a better quality of life then this research from the University of Glasgow should provide some helpful motivation to get started.
Not only will you feel better right after your commute (which rarely happens when taking public transport or driving), but you’ll improve your health and fitness as well as save money and time turning commuting into a health boosting workout.