People who use their bikes as transport are four times more likely to meet the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity than those who don’t cycle, says a report by Brunel University London. For those living in inner London, people who cycle to get about are six times fitter than their fellow bus, train and car commuters.
Public health researcher Glenn Stewart uncovered these results in a report recently published in the Journal of Public Health. He analysed the English Active People Survey (APS) to compare those who reported using their bikes as transport, to those who did not.
“I am surprised by the size of the effect rather than the effect itself” Glenn said. “People are often put off by the thought of being active for 150 mins a week but if this is made part of getting around, it almost becomes hard not to meet guidelines. Cycling 15 mins to and from work 5 days a week would mean 150 mins a week without even trying."
Glenn continues, “Given that the effect size rises in central London - where there have been investments in cycle infrastructure - promoting cycling as a means of transport has enormous potential for public health decision makers as a way of getting people fitter in the UK”.
London Cycling Campaign, with over 12,000 members and 40,000 supporters in London, added their support to promoting cycling as a transport mode and calls for further investment in cycling. “We already know from the Department of Transport that spending on cycling infrastructure offers much better value for money than most transport infrastructure projects. This study also confirms that ‘utility’ cycling, as a simple transport option even for short journeys , can help people rapidly reach their recommended physical activity levels. The key to getting more people to cycle such journeys is, though, safe space for cycling,”said Simon Munk, Infrastructure Campaigner, London Cycling Campaign.
This report was a part of Glenn’s doctoral thesis, supervised by Dr Nana Anokye and Dr Subhash Pokhrel from the Health Economics Research Group (HERG).