STROKE
June 1, 2018

Thank You for Not Driving

Driving your car to work raises your risk of stroke or heart attack. Public transportation or even better, a bike, are healthier options.

Driving to work, walking out your door, getting into the car and motoring to the office, has a certain appeal. Unfortunately, its appeal does not extend to your heart. Leaving your car at home on your commute to work — even occasionally — can make a difference in your health, a British study finds.

Even taking the bus is better than commuting by car.

People who take the train or bus need to walk to get to and from public transportation.

The study looked at the commuting habits of nearly 359,000 people in mostly urban areas of the United Kingdom. Anyone who travelled to work more than three days a week was considered a regular commuter. The researchers then divided commuters into two categories: those who got to work exclusively by car and those who used some other more active mode of transportation — walking, biking or taking a train or bus at least some of the time.

About two-thirds of the people reported getting to work exclusively by car. Compared to those who always drove, everyone else had an 11 percent lower risk of developing heart disease or stroke during the course of the study and a 30 percent lower risk of dying of heart disease or stroke during the course of the study — seven years on average.

The researchers excluded those people who developed disease or died within the first two years of follow-up to reduce the likelihood that people with early symptoms of heart disease were choosing the car because of a preexisting health issue.

The study design can't prove that relying solely on a car to get to work causes a rise in heart disease and strokes, but it does suggest it. And the authors point to the large study size and use of national datasets on heart disease and stroke, as opposed to self-reported health information, as among the study's strengths.

Perhaps most noteworthy is that taking public transportation offered some of the same benefits as walking or biking to work. Even people who take the train or bus need to walk to and from it, to say nothing of those mornings when they actually have to run to catch (or just miss) the bus. As other studies have shown, just a little extra physical activity adds up.

Naturally, walking or biking to work generally involves more activity than taking mass transit, but they all are more active than just sliding into the driver's seat. And of course the social opportunities are also greater when taking the train, bus or walking than when you shut yourself up in your car.

The study is published in the journal, Heart.
COMMENTS
NOTE: We regret that we cannot answer personal medical questions.
 
FOLLOW US
© 2016 interMDnet Corporation.