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  4.  | 3 Scientific Studies Suggest That Driving Less [and Bicycling More] Could Improve Health and Reduce the Likelihood of Injury

3 Scientific Studies Suggest That Driving Less [and Bicycling More] Could Improve Health and Reduce the Likelihood of Injury

by | Jul 8, 2016

Young female cycling

Portrait of happy young female cycling by a pond. Woman wearing a hat on a summer day riding her bicycle at city park.

In a recent post, we discussed challenges that Arizona cyclists and drivers confront when they need to share the road. Today, let’s take a step back and reflect on recent scientific literature to evaluate how different types of transportation affect our health and safety.

Conventional wisdom tells us that aerobic activity, like biking, should be good for our bodies and the environment. Conversely, sedentary activity, like driving, is less than ideal, at least in high doses. So should you pedal to the office instead of driving? Let’s comb through three recent scientific studies to look for answers.

How Your Choice of Transportation Affects Your Well Being and Risk

  1. Safe sun exposure increases happiness. We intuitively recognize that fresh air wakes up our minds and bodies. Bicycling to work or leaving the roof down for the drive might be a healthful move, according to new research conducted at Stanford University School of Medicine. The study showed that exposure to sunlight boosts serotonin levels, a hormone that plays a vital role in regulating emotions like happiness. Of course, while warmth from the sun can make you feel good and potentially boost vitamin D levels, you need to protect against sun overexposure and dehydration. Also, riding on the road while exposed to the elements (or partially exposed, if you just have the sunroof cracked) has complex safety implications.
  2. Better activity leads to better sleep. According to studies done by Professor Jim Horne from Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Center, people who cycle to work sleep better. Researchers hypothesize that physically activity, sun exposure and being outdoors all help regulate circadian rhythms and reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can prevent regenerative sleep. If you cannot (or don’t want to) bicycle, find time and energy to engage in outdoor activity that’s safe and comfortable for you.
  3. Exercise is good for the heart. Our busy lives often preclude us from getting the workouts we need to stay healthy. However, the consequences of ignoring exercise can be severe. The British Heart Foundation found that keeping people fit could prevent 10,000 fatal heart attacks a year. A Purdue University study, meanwhile, suggests that regular cycling could cut heart disease risk by nearly 50%. However, since the Purdue study was observational in nature, we need to be careful to avoid jumping to conclusions about cause and effect. It could be that naturally healthier people are more likely to bike to work. Thus, the urge to bicycle may simply be an indicator of health as opposed to a causal factor that leads to better health.

The Type of Transportation You Choose Has Ramifications for Health and Safety That Can Be Hard to Quantify

The studies we’ve covered suggest that the urge to bike is correlated with positive health outcomes. However, be mindful of a broader takeaway: health and safety outcomes on the road depend on many diverse, hard to disambiguate factors. Your amount of sun exposure, your safety skills, when you drive and/or bike, how frequently you drive and/or bike, the quality of your equipment and dozens of other elements can have an impact on your well being.

To that end, if something went wrong on the road and led to an injury, unpacking what happened and why can require intense analysis. Find an experience Arizona accident law firm to help you seek appropriate compensation. Call the Kelly Law Team at 602.283.4122 for insight and a free case assessment.

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