Health

Cherry Allan's picture

Health and cycling

Cycling is good exercise and it's easy to fit into the daily routiine. If more people took it up, it could help ward off the health crises facing the NHS...
Healthy cyclist
Headline Messages: 
  • Cycling is excellent exercise. More cycling will help more people meet the recommended physical activity guidelines, improve their physical and mental health and well-being, while reducing their risk of premature death and ill-health.
  • Cycling is far more likely to benefit an individual’s health than damage it; and the more cyclists there are, the safer cycling becomes – the ‘safety in numbers’ effect.
  • Cycling fits into daily routines better than many other forms of exercise, because it doubles up as transport to work, school or the shops etc. It’s easier than finding extra time to visit the gym and far less costly.
  • Lack of exercise can make people ill. It can lead to obesity, coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, cancers, type 2 diabetes and other life-threatening conditions.
  • Obesity in particular is a growing, costly burden to the health service. Without action, 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children will be obese by 2050 in the UK. 
  • CHD is the UK’s biggest killer – well over 90,000 people die of it each year with over 33% of these attributable to lack of physical activity.
  • Unlike driving, cycling causes negligible harm to others, either through road injuries or pollution, so it’s a healthy option not just for cyclists, but for everyone else too.
CTC View (formal statement of CTC's policy): 
  • Policy makers should recognise cycling as a healthy and convenient means of transport and recreation that could be incorporated into the ordinary day-to-day activity of millions of adults and children and so improve health and quality of life.
  • There is good evidence that cycling’s health benefits far outweigh the risks involved and that the more people who cycle, the safer it becomes – the ‘safety in numbers’ effect.
  • Cycling is also a benign mode of transport, causing negligible harm to others. Hence a switch from motorised travel to cycling would improve road safety for all by reducing road danger.
  • Public health and transport/planning policies, strategies and guidance, locally and nationally, should be mutually supportive in promoting and facilitating cycling as active travel; and they should clearly steer professionals towards cross-sector working. This will help tackle the serious, costly and growing crisis of physical inactivity and the health problems associated with it (e.g. obesity, heart disease etc).
  • Directors of Public Health (England) should take advantage of their return to local authorities to engage transport, town and spatial planning and other council departments (e.g. leisure and tourism) more closely in promoting cycling as active travel and recreation.
  • The NHS and its providers should actively promote cycling both to their own employees, to the people in their care, and to the general public; and they should invest in measures to support it (e.g. patient referral schemes, cycling facilities at sites as part of Travel Plans etc).
  • Transport and planning decisions should undergo a ‘health check’ to maximise the potential for positive impacts on active travel and minimise negative impacts. Tackling hostile road conditions is a priority because they put existing cyclists at risk and deter many others including children and young people.
  • Placing the onus solely on cyclists to protect themselves from injury does not tackle the risks they face at source. Health professionals should therefore remain cautious about cycle safety campaigns that focus on personal protective equipment.
Download full campaigns briefing: 
Publication Date: 
September 2012
Cherry Allan's picture

Promoting cycling in the health sector

Nowadays most people know how important it is to encourage active lifestyles rather than heap precious resources on treating disease caused by inactivity. The NHS has a vital role here - not just as a health provider, but as a huge employer.
Cyclists

Arguably, the NHS has the strongest motivation of all to promote physical activity for the sake of public health and public resources. Our briefing on promoting cycling in the health sector provides a check-list for providers on how to become a cycle-friendly employer, and how (and why) to encourage people in their care to take up the activity.

Javed Saddique's picture

Everybody Active - safe cycling sessions for adults with disabilities in Reading

Everybody Active is a cycling session run each week on a Wednesday. The sessions provide the opportunity for adults with disabilities to cycle in a safe environment.
All ability cyclists take to the track in Reading

Since the launch of the Everybody Active cycling sessions, we have seen numbers of attendees increase and already we have ten regular participants who turn up whatever the weather.

The sessions have been such a success that there are now two every Wednesday between 10am and 12pm at Palmer Park, Reading.

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CTC's picture

Guide to adapted cycles

Adapted cycles make cycling accessible to all, whatever your personal challenges. There are a wide range of disability cycles that suit people with a variety of learning and physical disabilities, as well as health issues. Here is a brief overview of what bikes are available.
An example of an adapted cycle - an upright hand cycle

This is an introduction to adapted bikes, but it is also important to remember that it's possible to modify a standard 2-wheel bike to suit your needs (e.g. by wiring brakes and gears onto one handle, adding a foot plate to a pedal or increasing handle bar height).

We mention a few particular manufacturers of disability cycles, but there are many other good makers all over the world - so it's worth exploring further.

Julie Rand's picture

The Fat Cycle Rider tells how he lost 8st 4lb by riding to work

Toby Field only took up cycling two years ago but is now riding ten miles to work and back each day - and is now a whole lot healthier and a lean cycle rider into the bargain.
Blogger Toby Field also known as The Fat Cycle Rider

At 31 years old and almost 21 stone, Toby Field decided drastic action was necessary to save his life.  After Toby's dad died of an obesity-related heart attack at the age of 55, he didn't want to suffer the same fate so bought a bike through his company's cycle to work scheme.

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