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Walking, Biking to Work Pays Off

Active commuters are slimmer and fitter, study finds

TUESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- People who walk or cycle to work have fewer risk factors for heart disease, a U.S. study has found.

The study included 2,364 men and women who worked outside the home. At physical examinations conducted in 2005 and 2006, the participants reported details about their commute to work, including length in minutes and miles, and the percentage of the journey taken by car, public transit, walking or cycling.

The researchers found that 16.7 percent of the participants walked or cycled to work (active commuting), and those men and women appeared to be more fit. Those who were active commuters were less likely to be overweight or obese and had healthier triglyceride, blood pressure and insulin levels.

The study, published in the July 13 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, adds to evidence that cycling or walking to work improves health, said Penny Gordon-Larsen of the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues.

"Public support for policies that encourage active commuting has been shown, particularly for individuals with experience using active commuting and with positive attitudes toward walking and biking," they wrote. "Furthermore, increasing active commuting will have the dual benefits of increasing population health and in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental supports for commuting, such as physical environment and sociocultural factors, have been shown to promote active forms of commuting."

Further research should be done to identify other potential benefits of active commuting, they concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases offers tips to help you get active.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, July 13, 2009

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