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Heartbeat: commuting and cardiovascular health
  1. Catherine M Otto
  1. Correspondence to Professor Catherine M Otto, Division of Cardiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA; cmotto{at}

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Patients and the general public are increasingly aware of the benefits of physical activity in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Yet, many patients (and physicians) find it difficult to fit a dedicated exercise programme into their busy daily schedule. It has been unclear whether increased physical activity related to commuting or transport in general, has the same benefit as longer blocks of leisure time physical activity. Indeed, a recent article in Heart found that occupational physical activity does not have the same benefit as sports physical activity.1 Does this apparent paradox apply to other types of physical activity as well? Or is any activity better than none?

In this issue of Heart, Panter and colleagues2 used data from the UK Biobank database, with almost 360 thousand participants, found that regular commuters who use active modes of transport, compared with those who travel exclusively by car, have a lower risk of both incident (HR 0.89, 95% CI 0.79 to 1.00) and fatal (HR 0.70, 95% CI 0.51 to 0.95) CVD (figure 1). In addition, use of active modes of transport for other activities (not simply going to and from work) was associated with an even lower risk of fatal CVD (HR 0.57, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.85).

Figure 1

Maximally adjusted HRs for more active patterns of travel (compared with exclusive car use), and …

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