Cycling is healthier than you think

| April 30, 2015
Photo: Mikkel Østergaard

Photo: Mikkel Østergaard

Not only does cycling to work give you great legs. A new study shows that commuter cyclists also eat healthier, smoke and drink less, and in general feel less stressed.

“It’s interesting that cycling affects ones general lifestyle”, says Bente Klarlund Pedersen [a recognized Danish professor in sports physiology]

By Christina Britz Nicolaisen, Danish Cyclists’ Federation

Good news for all budding commuter cyclists at this year’s Bike to Work campaigns. Besides the known advantages related to cycling – increased metabolism, saving money on gas and prevention of lifestyle diseases – it has now been proven that there are even more advantages related to cycling to work.

Snowball effect
The study, ”Cycling 10:10”, is part of ”Cyclescheme” – a British Bike to Work campaign. The results are based on data from 10,000 commuter cyclists and analyses the last 10 years. The study concludes that the trip to work starts a snowball effect which affects one’s lifestyle and increases health in general. Cycling – which is normally associated with good exercise – also influences on many other areas of the commuter cyclists’ life, which have nothing to do with exercise. Thus half of the respondents have started eating healthier (48 %), one third drinks less alcohol (29 %), and one fifth smokes less than before they started cycling to work (20 %). There is also a clear connection between cycling, stress and sick leave. Roughly half of the new commuter cyclists feel less stressed at their job (45 %), have fewer sick days (42 %), and generally feel like in a better mood (47 %).
Bente Klarlund Pedersen, a recognized Danish professor in sports physiology and an enthusiastic supporter for the bicycle as a tool for a healthier lifestyle, thinks that the results make good sense: “It is interesting that cycling seems to affect a general healthy lifestyle, also when it comes to smoking, alcohol, and food. This is part of the explanation why cycling as a lifestyle has such great effects on both the physical and mental wellbeing.”

Addicted to cycling
The good news doesn’t stop here, though. Even though it might feel challenging to start cycling to work for the first time, the British survey shows that the trip quickly becomes a good and addictive way of transport:
Two thirds of the respondents actually felt they got addicted to cycling – and state that they cycled more than they originally planned on. Half of the respondents also started cycling in their spare time with friends and family, and an astonishing 70 % have tried to encourage friends and colleagues to start cycling.

Category: Campaigns, Commuting, Health, Research

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