Pedal power to boost fit­ness

Study shows big ben­e­fits of bike travel

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Kather­ine Cle­men­tine kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­

LON­DON­ERS who cy­cle are up to SIX times fit­ter than bus, train and car com­muters, ac­cord­ing to re­search car­ried out by Brunel Univer­sity.

Re­search from the Uxbridge-based cam­pus of the univer­sity shows that 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.

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.

Mr Ste­wart said: “I am sur­prised by the size of the ef­fect rather than the ef­fect it­self.

“Peo­ple are of­ten put off by the thought of be­ing ac­tive for 150 min­utes a week but if this is made part of get­ting around, it al­most be­comes hard not to meet guide­lines.

“Cy­cling 15 min­utes to and from work, five days a week, would mean 150 min­utes a week with­out even try­ing.”

This re­port was a part of Mr Ste­wart’s doc­toral the­sis. He con­tin­ued: “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 more than 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.

Si­mon Munk, in­fra­struc­ture cam­paigner, said: “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.”

n CY­CLIST: Mayor Boris John­son com­mutes by bike

Steve Bain­bridge

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