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
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).