The Cycle Hire scheme launched by London Mayor Boris Johnson recorded over one million journey’s in its first ten weeks with the success of the British 2008 Olympic team only continuing to increase its popularity.
Dr David Ogilvie, former GP and public health physician at the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) in Cambridge, has said that cycling is such a great way to get fit because unlike going to the gym which involves time commitments, making your regular journeys by bike can be easily slotted in to your daily routine.
A recent UK study has revealed that a short cycle ride four times a week could help to improve aerobic fitness by up to 11 per cent in six weeks. “We also know that physical activity as a whole reduces the risk of many chronic conditions, such as diabetes and certain cancers,” Said Dr Ogilvie.
As well as helping to get the heart and lungs pumping (which strengthens the cardiovascular system), cycling can also benefit mental health. Surveys have found that up to 85 per cent of individuals suffering from depression find that exercising helps to alleviate certain symptoms and doing this in an outdoor environment further increases the health benefits.
Phil Insall, a health director at Sustrans, a charity promoting sustainable transport commented: “You’re out and about, beating the traffic, breathing fresh air and enjoying the natural beauty of your surroundings, and that will have a noticeable protective effect on mental health”.
Furthermore, a 2010 Dutch study found that cyclists take fewer sick days than those who do not, and additional research suggests that the impact is so great that cyclists live up to 14 months longer than non-cyclists.