Active Commuting Associated With Improved Overall Health

People who walk or cycle to work exhibit lower cardiovascular disease risk than those who don't

TUESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- People who commute to work by foot or by bike tend to be fitter than those who passively commute, according to a study published in the July 13 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Penny Gordon-Larsen, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues conducted a study of 2,364 young adults who commuted to work, and who reported on their commuting method. The researchers collected data on the subjects' body mass index, fitness, and cardiovascular disease risk factors such as blood pressure, fasting lipid levels, and insulin levels.

Active commuting was reported by 16.7 percent of the cohort, and was associated with 50 percent lower odds of obesity and reduced cardiovascular disease risk including triglyceride levels, ratio of geometric mean fasting insulin, mean diastolic blood pressure, and higher fitness, compared to those who passively commuted, the researchers found.

"Future investigation into the link between active commuting and health outcomes should address the amount of commuting needed for positive health benefit," the authors write. "There is a substantial need for development of more precise measures of active commuting. Most important, the use of longitudinal designs to address selectivity and reverse causality is strongly encouraged. Similarly, research aimed at unraveling the selectivity in active commuting behaviors and understanding whether those who choose to actively commute are healthier and more active is of utmost importance."

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