by Marcus Leach
It doesn't take a genius to realise that cycling has various health benefits, but now a new scientific study published by the British Medical Journal has confirmed that cycling to work makes you thinner.
The investigation, performed by researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and University College London, took a sample of 7,500 individuals and analysed the relationship between their Body Mass Index (BMI) and their chosen method of transport to work.
According to the findings those men who used public transport or were active for part of their commute recorded BMI scores (weight ÷ height) of 1.10 and 0.97 points lower than those who drove to work. For women the same comparison saw those using public modes of transport recording a reading that was 0.72 lower.
Ellen Flint, PhD of LSHTM, said that active commuting was a more effective tool in the fight against obesity than dieting and targeted exercise.
"Because the predominant mode of transportation in Britain is the car, if we can affect a large modal shift away from private transport toward public or active modes of transport, there really is great potential to reap large population health benefits on overweight and obesity," she said.
The research also found that, in terms of body fat percentage, the results were 'similar in terms of magnitude, significance, and direction of effects' to those seen in BMI change.
Research associate at Imperial College London, Anthony Laverty, and reader in public health, Christopher Millett, PhD wrote an accompanying piece to Dr Flint's study which explained that the reduction in body fat observed in association with the use of public transport was the most interesting and important finding.
"This benefit is likely to accrue because the use of public transport generally involves walking and occasionally cycling to transport access points or interchanges, thus increasing incidental physical activity," the pairs’ editorial read.