I bike to work Every Day. I do so not because I care more about the environment than people who drive to work, but because — at the moment — I don't own a car. Amusingly, I ended up walking to work today, discovering that it is Bike to Work Day only after I had arrived. Since biking to and from work is typically the only exercise I engage in on weekdays, I asked Google if cycling to work has any significant health benefits. The answer is a resounding "Yes!"

Why we should all bike to work

According to a study by researchers at the University of Glasgow, both cycling and walking to work are correlated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and reduced rates of mortality, although cycling was found to decrease the risk of CVD, mortality, and cancer far more effectively than walking.

Although walking commuters were involved in a higher level of physical activity than people who drove to work, the walking commuters did not have the increased cardiorespiratory fitness of the cycling commuters. Also, unsurprisingly, commuting to work by walking was more beneficial the farther one had to travel. Overall, the study found that cycling to work offers the greatest health benefits of the two modes of active commuting.

Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in the United States, therefore any activity that reduces your risk of succumbing to one of these diseases should be taken very seriously, especially when the activity is simply walking or cycling to work.

How to make active commuting a reality

Living an active lifestyle is a crucial part of maintaining your physical health. However, as noted in the study, physical exercise has declined globally in recent years. To combat the rise of sedentary lifestyles and promote healthy living, the researchers suggest actively commuting (either walking or cycling) to work regularly.

They write, "Encouraging active commuting, particularly by cycling, may be a viable approach to deliver health benefits related to physical activity at the population level."

To make active commuting a realistic option, communities must embrace and implement bike-friendly policies, such as the construction of bike lanes and sidewalks.

For some readers, active commuting may be inconvenient or impossible (especially if you live a long distance from your work). However, for those of us who live close enough to work to cycle or walk, we should take advantage of this opportunity to improve our physical health.