Share The Road

Can Cycling Improve Health?

  • Data from 5 different countries (Figure 3) demonstrates that there is a strong correlation between overweight children and low levels of general cycle use. This evidence strongly suggests that as levels of cycling go up, levels of obesity go down (6).

Figure 3: As Levels of Cycling Go Up, Levels of Obesity Go Down

As Levels of Cycling Go Up, Levels of Obesity Go Down Source: Sustrans, Ev 162

  • Despite the evidence that cycling can help prevent childhood obesity, rates of cycling use in children are plummeting. In 2003, less than 15% of students between the ages of five and 15 walk or bike to school, compared to 48% in 1969 (24).
  • People living in sprawling, low-density US counties (7):
    • Walk and bike less
    • Are more likely to be obese
    • Are more likely to have hypertension
  • The World Health Organization estimates that physical inactivity is estimated to cause 2 million deaths worldwide annually (25). And they specifically mention cycling to and from work as an important element in addressing this global crisis.
  • The improvements in cardiovascular health with bicycle commuting are so substantial that some countries health insurers actively support bicycle commuting (26).
  • The health benefits of cycling are calculated to outweigh the risks by 20:1 (21, 26, 27).
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