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‘Active’ commuting can lower heart attack risk: study

Photo: jacoblund/iStockphoto

Leeds, England — Walking or biking to work may reduce your risk of heart attack, results of a recent study out of the United Kingdom indicate.

Using 2011 UK census data and 2011-2013 data from the Myocardial Ischaemia National Audit Project, researchers from the University of Leeds looked for links between commuting habits and incidence of heart attacks among more than 43 million working adults between the ages of 25 and 74 living in 325 local boroughs and districts. Of them, more than 117,000 had suffered a heart attack within two years after the census.

The researchers found that “in areas where walking or cycling to work were more common in 2011, the incidence of heart attacks decreased for both men and women across the following two years,” a Dec. 19 press release from the university states.

Among the study group, 11.4% were identified as “active” commuters, with walking (8.6%) more popular than biking (2.8%). After adjusting for cardiovascular disease risk factors such as physical inactivity, being overweight, smoking and diabetes, the researchers determined that women who walked to work and men who biked to work had a 1.7% reduction in heart attacks the next year.


“This study clearly suggests that exercising on the way to work has the potential to bring nationwide improvements to health and well-being,” lead study author Chris Gale, a consultant cardiologist from the university’s Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine, said in the release.

The study was published online Dec. 18 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

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