As governments around the world are actively encouraging citizens to skip public transit and instead cycle and walk more during the pandemic, the findings of a massive recent study may actually sway people to do so even after the pandemic.
Coming from Imperial College London, the research tapped 25 years’ worth of census data to track the habits and health outcomes of 300,000 commuters, finding an association between those who avoid daily car travel and a lower risk of early death.
The analysis revealed the commuters who cycled to work had a 20 percent reduced rate of early death compared to those who drove, and a 24 percent reduced rate of death from cardiovascular disease. The team also found a 16 percent reduction in rates of death from cancer and an 11 percent reduction in cancer diagnosis among this group.
Walking to work was associated with a 7 percent reduction in cancer diagnosis rates. People catching the train, meanwhile, had a 10 percent reduced rate of early death, along with a 20 percent reduced rate of death from cardiovascular disease and a 12 percent reduced rate of a cancer diagnosis.
While the health benefits are clear and well documented through previous literature, the authors of the new study note its value in tracking a larger cohort of people over a much longer timeframe.
With such large numbers the study further strengthens the association between active commuting and reduced risk of early death, backing a chorus of experts encouraging commuters to embrace greener transport methods as the COVID-19 lockdowns begin to ease.