A recently released study of commuters in Shanghai, China shows that walking or bicycling to work may do more than minimize pollution and improve cardiovascular health. Researchers from the Maryland-based National Cancer Institute found that moderate day-to-day physical activity significantly reduced Shanghai residents’ chances of getting colon cancer.
During the 1990s, as China “westernized,” workers began taking cars and buses instead of walking or bicycling to work. American researchers studied Chinese commuters’ changing transportation habits, and found that their increased reliance on motorized transportation was accompanied by a significant spike in the number of colon cancer cases, verifying a long-suspected link between inactivity and the development of malignant tumors. According to the study, those workers who continued to commute via their own power were about 50 percent less likely to get colon cancer.
According to study author Lifang Hou, millions of American commuters have the opportunity to significantly improve their own health by taking the findings seriously. “We expect to see the same or even greater beneficial effects of incorporating walking and bicycling into our daily commute in the U.S., since the portion of the U.S. population who commute by cycling and walking is relatively small,” reports Hou.