Want a Stronger Heart? Bike to Work

Credit: Karl Nielsen

Power up that heart with some pedaling. 

This probably sounds incredibly obvious, but biking as a primary form of travel is really good for you. You get stronger legs, burn a lot of calories, stamina training, so on and so forth. But here’s something you might not know: biking to work can significantly reduce your risk of heart attacks. 

According to a study co-authored by Olympic medal triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, active travel (biking, walking, etc.) can shore up your heart against heart attacks. Based on medical data from 2011, areas with a higher concentration of work bikers saw lower occurrences of heart attacks. It’s not particularly surprising; one of the major contributing factors to heart attack risk is lack of exercise after all. If you’re exercising at a steady clip every weekday, then it stands to reason you’d be less susceptible.  

Now, obviously, correlation does not imply causation, but there are some numbers here to consider. Of the 43 million people aged 25-74 years that were checked for this study, around 11% utilized some form of active travel for their daily commute. Both the men and women of the active travelers experienced a 1.7% reduction in heart attacks over the following year. It might not sound like a lot, but hey, a 1% reduction in heart attack risk is a pretty great 1% to have.