Pedal Power – Health Benefits of Cycling

Cycling has so many great benefits.  In this blog one of our key partners Public Health Agency shares some interesting stats:

Physical activity is good for our health and wellbeing.

It can help maintain a healthy weight and can reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer. New research by the University of Glasgow, published in the BMJ in April this year, has found that cycling to work is associated with a 45% lower risk of developing cancer and a 46% lower risk of heart disease, compared to a non-active commute. Overall the study found that commuters who cycled were associated with a 41% lower risk of premature death.

Physical activity can also improve mental health by lifting mood, reducing anxiety and helping to protect against depression.

Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) guidelines

It is recommended that adults participate in at least 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) moderate intensity physical activity a week in bouts of 10 minutes or more – one way to approach this is to do 30 minutes on at least five days a week.

However, only 53% of adults, in Northern Ireland meet the CMOs physical activity guidelines.  A further 19% participate in somewhere between 30-150 minutes physical activity, while 28% participate in less than 30 minutes exercise per week, classifying them as inactive.

The recommendation for children is that they should be active for at least an hour every day. Only 12.7% of young people meet the CMO guidelines of being active for 60 minutes or more a day, every day.

For advice on getting more active, visit the PHA’s website which also has tips on setting targets and more ways to move more and move more often.

Obesity statistics

Statistics from Health Survey Northern Ireland 2015-16 (DoH) show that:

  • Children aged 2–15: 16% overweight and 9% obese. (25% total)
  • Adults: 34% overweight and 26% obese (60% total)

Benefits of Ciclovia

Cycling is a great way to get active and to have fun. Cycling can be an everyday activity, and Ciclovia is a chance to try cycling if you are not confident or haven’t been on a bike in a while.

It is a good way to get active as a family, and to cycle with children in a safe, traffic-free environment. It is important that children are introduced to a culture of being active from an early age as it is something that will stay with them and benefit them throughout their lives.

Making small changes to increase our levels of physical activity can make a big difference to our health and wellbeing, and quality of life.

Participating in physical activity is also a good way of making communities more liveable, and of breaking down social isolation.

Don’t forget Ciclovia Belfast, 24th September 2017.  The cycle freeway will be open from 0930 – 12:30pm. It’s fun, free and for everyone, of all ages and abilities to enjoy.

Rachael Harriott

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