Men who biked to work were 11 pounds lighter than those who drove by car. Women 9.7 pounds.

Men who biked to work were 11 pounds lighter than those who drove by car. Women 9.7 pounds.

(Reuters Health) – Choosing an active way to get to work could make a big difference in how much weight creeps on in middle age, a large U.K. study suggests.

Studying tens of thousands of commuters over age 40, researchers found that people who drove to work weighed more and had a higher percentage of body fat than those who got to work by walking, biking or public transportation.

Those who commuted by bicycle were the leanest of all, but even taking the train was linked to lower body weight and body fat, the authors report in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

“We know that exercise protects against obesity and chronic diseases. However, we all struggle to fit enough of it into our busy lives,” said lead author Ellen Flint of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“This study shows that people who manage to build physical activity into their daily commute have significantly lower body weight and healthier body composition than those who commute by car,” Flint told Reuters Health by email.

In the U.S., about one third of adults are obese and no more than about 18 percent commute to work by walking or biking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To examine links between commuting mode and body weight, the study team used data from the UK Biobank on 157,000 middle-aged British adults, collected between 2006 and 2010.

Body fat was assessed in two ways: body mass index (BMI), which is a ratio of weight to height, and body fat percentage.

Car travel was the most common method of commuting, with 64 percent of men and 61 percent of women reporting they drove for all or part of their commutes. Four percent of men and 7 percent of women exclusively walked to work, while 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women cycled or mixed cycling with walking. Overall, 23 percent of men and 24 percent of women used an active commuting method either exclusively or as part of a mix of transport methods.

Men and women who commuted to work by any means other than driving had lower body fat percentage and BMI compared to adults who commuted by car, researchers found.

Even after accounting for a wide range of characteristics and lifestyle information about the participants, active commuting methods were linked to lower body weight and body fat.

The biggest difference was seen between cyclists and drivers. Men who biked to work averaged nearly two BMI points less and were about 11 pounds lighter than those who drove. Women who biked were about 1.65 BMI points less and 9.7 pounds lighter than those who commuted by car.

Factors outside of individuals’ control can influence their commuting choices, noted Dr. Lars Bo Andersen of Sogn and Fjordane University College in Norway, who wrote a commentary on the study. But, he said, people need to know that everyday health choices make a difference in the long run.

“The average person gains 1-2 pounds each year after the age of 30 years,” Andersen said by email. “This trend will be prevented by simple things such as choosing the active travel, small changes in nutrition, etc.”

In his commentary, Andersen emphasized that communities need to help people make healthier choices.

“The community can provide the environment and especially the infrastructure which makes it possible to cycle and walk,” Andersen told Reuters Health.

“Switching from car commuting to a less sedentary routine allows us to build more habitual physical activity into the daily routine,” said Flint.

SOURCE: and The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, online March 16, 2016.

Blog by Peter Kerpedjiev

Blog by Peter Kerpedjiev


I’m a PhD student working on modelling the tertiary structure of RNA molecules at the Theoretical Biochemistry Group at the University of Vienna. If you’re interested, you can find a short form copy of my CV here.


Feel free to email me at pkerpedjiev(at) or follow me on Twitter or Google+. In case you’re interested in updates to my blog, there’s an Atom feed here.

This Webpage

The source code for this web page can be found on github.


forna – A tool for displaying the secondary structure of RNA.forgi – A library for annotating and manipulating RNA secondary structure.bwa-pssm – A short read aligner using position-specific scoring matrices to encode the error probabilities for each base.

Lloyd Nick Trefethen Talks

Lloyd Nick Trefethen Talks

Nick Trefethen Talks (selection)
Initial-value problems and a new ODE textbook (Strathclyde Numerical Analysis, June 2015)
Chebfun (video) (SIAM Past-President’s Address, July 2013)
Chebfun as a software project (ICMS 2014, Korea, July 2014)
From iterative Gaussian elimination to Chebfun2 (OCCAM Conference, Oxford, July 2013)
Pseudospectra and EigTool (video) (U. of Cambridge, March 2009)
Introduction to Chebfun (video) (U. of Cambridge, July 2011 — starts at 2:40)
Six myths of polynomial interpolation (IMA/Royal Society, June 2011)
Chebfun: A new kind of numerical computing (U. of Heidelberg, May 2010)
CF approximation 30 years later (ETH Zurich, August 2009)
Continuous analogues of QR, SVD, and LU (Householder Symposium, June 2008)
Speeding up numerical computations via conformal maps (Texas Tech University, October 2007)
Is Gauss quadrature better than Clenshaw-Curtis? (SIAM Annual Meeting, July 2006)
Lewy-Hörmander nonexistence and pseudospectra (SIAM PDE Meeting, July 2006)
Talbot quadratures and rational approximations (SIAM/GAMM Applied Linear Algebra, July 2006)
Spectra and Pseudospectra (Householder Symposium, May 2005)
Who invented the great numerical algorithms? (Various places, 2005)
Eigenmodes of drums and physics Nobel Prizes (Rice University, November 2005)