London Cycling Campaign
Health Benefits of Cycling
Physical activity is one of the key determinants of good health. A physically active lifestyle, including walking, cycling or participating in sport, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke and promotes good mental health. Cyclists are healthier than the average motorist and can expect to live longer.
After just a few weeks of regular cycling, regardless of age, gender or initial physical fitness, the cyclist will be fitter and enjoy a greater sense of well-being. Regular exercise, such as cycling, halves the chances of suffering from heart disease, the single largest cause of death in Britain, and provides protection from strokes, diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Cycling is one of the most enjoyable and effective work-outs. Even a small amount of cycling can lead to significant health benefits, according to a British study involving 99 volunteers. Its many benefits include:
. Improving strength, stamina and cardio-vascular fitness.
. Helping to lower both blood pressure and the resting heart rate.
. Shedding those unwanted pounds. A cycle ride increases calorie consumption and raises the metabolic rate, which can help to lose weight.
. Improving balance and co-ordination.
. Promoting psychological well-being. Several studies have shown that exercise helps reduce stress, improves a general sense of well-being and improves mental capacities.
The Department of Health recommends that people should take part in moderately intensive activity lasting 30 minutes at least five days a week. Health experts believe cycling provides the one of the most effective forms of aerobic exercise – as well as being convenient and exhilarating.
As well as improving general fitness, cycling helps reduce the chances of a premature death, providing protection against some the country’s most prevalent causes of death. A cyclist will have greater protection from:-
. Heart failure. Exercise provides the single most effective protective factor for coronary heart disease4.
. Strokes. Cycling helps to reduce high blood pressure, a condition which significantly increases the change of someone having a stroke.
. Falls, fractures and injuries. A cyclist has a reduced chance of an accident because of improvements in strength and co-ordination.
. Dangers of pollution. Cyclists and pedestrians absorb lower levels of pollutants from traffic fumes than other road users.
. Cancer and diabetes. Research indicates exercise reduces the risk of developing colon cancer and can also protect against diabetes.
1 Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. Health Benefits of Physical Activity. October 2001.
2 Department of the Transport, Environment and the Regions. Cycling for Better Health. December 1999.
3 Pedalling Health: Health Benefits of a Modal Transport Shift. Ian Roberts, Harry Owen, Peter Lumb, Colin MacDougall. 1995.
4 Health Impact Assessment of Transport. Mark McCarthy. University College London.
5 National Cycling Forum. Promoting Cycling: Improving Health. April 1999.
6 National Cycling Forum. Promoting Cycling: Improving Health. April 1999.
7 Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. Transport Statistics Great Britain. 2001 edition.
8 Cycling: Towards Health and Safety. British Medical Association. 1992.