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Walking to Work Reduces Risk of Diabetes, High Blood Pressure

Posted Sep 01 2013 10:08pm

In that physical inactivity is a growing public health threat in modernized countries, Anthony A. Laverty, from Imperial College London (United Kingdom), and colleagues studied how various health indicators correlated to how people get to work.  Utilizing data from the Understanding Society survey, involving over 20,000 residents of the United Kingdom., the team found that cycling, walking, and using public transport were all associated with lower risk of being overweight than driving or taking a taxi. People who walk to work are 40% less likely to have diabetes, and also 17% less likely to have high blood pressure. Cyclists were around half as likely to have diabetes as drivers.  The study authors urge that: “The protective association between active travel and cardiovascular risk demonstrated in this nationally representative study adds to growing evidence that concerted policy focus in this area may benefit population health.”

Anthony A. Laverty, Jennifer S. Mindell, Elizabeth A. Webb, Christopher Millett. “Active Travel to Work and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in the United Kingdom.”  Am J Preventive Medicine, September 2013, Vol. 45, No. 3, pages 282-288.

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Tip #192 - Stay Connected
Researchers from the University of Chicago (Illinois, USA) report that social isolation may be detrimental to both mental and physical health. The team analyzed data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a nationwide US study involving 3,000 men and women, ages 57 to 85 years. They arrived at three key findings regarding the relationships between health and different types of isolation:

• The researchers found that the most socially connected older adults are three times as likely to report very good or excellent health compared to those who are least connected, regardless of whether they feel isolated.

• The team found that older adults who feel least isolated are five times as likely to report very good or excellent health as those who feel most isolated, regardless of their actual level of social connectedness.

• They determined that social disconnectedness is not related to mental health unless it brings feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Separately, Rush University Medical Center (Illinois, USA) researchers studied 906 older men and women, testing their motor functions (including grip, pinch strength, balance, and walking) and surveying their social activity, for a period of 5 years. Those study participants with less social activity were found to have a more rapid rate of motor function decline. Specifically, the team found that every one-point decrease in social activity corresponded to an increase in functional aging of 5 years, translating to a 40% higher risk of death and 65% higher risk of disability.

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