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Study finds average cyclist in Netherlands lives six months longer than non-riders

Riding a bike for one hour extends the average cyclist’s life by the same amount of time, according to a study in the Netherlands, which also found that they live six months longer than people who do not ride bikes.

Researchers at the University of Utrecht’s Healthy Urban Living programme reached that conclusion based on statistics on the transport choices made by 50,000 people living in the Netherlands, with their findings published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The data, which revealed that across the population as a whole, people ride a bike for an average of 75 minutes a week, accounting for a quarter of all trips, was then run through a new computational tool devised by the World Health Organization.

One of the researchers involved in the project, Dr Carlijn Kamphuis, said: “We were able to calculate that on average, for every hour of cycling people live about an hour longer.

"For Dutch people, that equates to living for about six months longer for every 75 minutes of cycling each week.

"Additionally, it appears that about 11,000 premature deaths are saved each year through cycling."

"This is important information to convince policy makers about the significance of promoting cycling measures" he continued.

"The figures speak for themselves. An investment in better cycle paths, for example, is easily recovered through the enormous health benefits and potential financial savings.

"There are also other benefits from cycling including improved air quality, reduced traffic and as people move more, less burden due to illness."

Dr Elliot Fishman, director of the Institute for Sensible Transport in Melbourne, who was also involved in rthe research, said: "When it comes to the benefits of cycling, the Netherlands can present these figures as a benchmark to the rest of the world.

"Nowhere in the world do people cycle as much as they do in the Netherlands," he added.

In the UK, a report from Cyclescheme we reported on in April said that if current trends in the growth of the number of people commuting by bike continue over the next decade, it could save the NHS £2.5 billion between now and 2025.

The same report also predicted a £830 million boost to the country’s economy due to a healthier and happier workforce.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

18 comments

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adamthekiwi [134 posts] 1 year ago
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I've often said it: time spent riding doesn't count against your total...!

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timfearn [43 posts] 1 year ago
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Cool - that's an extra week so far this year then  16

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Rupert [191 posts] 1 year ago
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Not so fast British cyclists with your assumptions that you will live longer !

Remember this is a Dutch report not a British report.
Also remember that statistics can be made to promote anything.

What if you are a Londoner ? Has the probability of a cyclist being injured or even killed by a motorist gone up lately ?

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bikebot [2120 posts] 1 year ago
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Nice to see a dog in a basket up top, is that a reference to the Daily Mail's definition of a cyclist?

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bendertherobot [1407 posts] 1 year ago
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Christ, I'm gonna live forever. #fame

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mike the bike [887 posts] 1 year ago
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Similar statistics from the Institute of Studies reveal that if you cycle ten miles every day by the end of the week you are seventy miles from home.

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spen [149 posts] 1 year ago
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I was going to question if the research was done by Dr Strabismus (Whom God Preserve) of Utrecht but aparently there is a Eustace Strabismus who works at the Uni of Utrecht!

Wonder if he's puzzled when British people smirk when hearing his name?

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bikebot [2120 posts] 1 year ago
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mike the bike wrote:

Similar statistics from the Institute of Studies reveal that if you cycle ten miles every day by the end of the week you are seventy miles from home.

I'm so stealing that, but it's going to be advice for some anti-cycling numpty.

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Northernbike [229 posts] 1 year ago
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cycling also helps you live longer because the wind makes your cigarette go out while you're riding

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crikey [1251 posts] 1 year ago
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Smoke a pipe then....amateur...  3//s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/ac/56/73/ac56732b43106f51ae06eb97798704ea.jpg)

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SteppenHerring [332 posts] 1 year ago
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So, if you can keep cycling forever - presumably with a team to hand you up food and drink - you will become immortal. Maybe there's a group of these immortals and the only way they can be killed is a mini-pump in the spokes.

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Argos74 [434 posts] 1 year ago
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Bugger the stats on mortality. I want the stats on morbidity - rather than just extending the amount of life, what effect does regular exercise have on the *quality* of life?

I'd much rather a fun filled, action packed 70 years rather than sinking in a sofa at 50 and slowly getting more decrepit over the next 40 years.

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ChairRDRF [351 posts] 1 year ago
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re-Rupert's comments - if you are a Londoner you are LESS likely to be killed per journey than elsewhere in the UK (although that's higher chances of dying than in Netherlands). But there has been a lot showing that you are far more likely to die from not cycling than cycling.

Actually, someone like Adrian Davis in Bristol could tell you - the 6 month figure is quite low to others I have seen. And that is for people pootling to work, not club cyclists getting the miles in.

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dr2chase [16 posts] 1 year ago
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Number I saw was 2-5 years, depending -- 2 for women moderately exerting themselves, 5 for men who were cycling "vigorously".

Here: http://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/Last-5-years...

OECD, Cycling, Health, and Safety, PDF page 44, lists 5 studies showing about a 20-25% lower annual mortality rate for cycling commuters.

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justDave [29 posts] 1 year ago
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In the early 90's the BMA funded a research paper by Dr Meyer Hillman of the Policy Studies Institute - Cycling: Towards Health and Safety (Oxford University Press). The report "established that, in spite of the hostile environment in which most cyclists currently ride, the benefits in terms of health promotion and longevity far outweigh the loss of life years in injury on the roads. To derive these and many other benefits, it called for more emphasis to be placed on cycling and highlighted the fact that people are more likely to do so regularly if cycles are used as a form of transport rather than a recreational activity. For the great majority of the population, cycling as part of the routine of daily travel from childhood through to old age has the potential for improving fitness in a way that, given proper provision for it in the form of safe cycle networks, cannot be matched by any other comparable exercise regime." The report was used by in a public and health sector promotion by the Bicycle Association called Bike For Your Life.

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earth [340 posts] 1 year ago
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Can I cheat death and live forever as long as I keep riding? What happens if I have to stop at a red light or fix a puncture?

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Mungecrundle [662 posts] 1 year ago
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Think of it as being able to go out for a ride on Sunday morning, then lie about on the sofa all afternoon and being able to explain to the Missus why technically you haven't wasted any time at all.

M

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Jacobi [172 posts] 1 year ago
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So if you cycle for 24 hours a day you'll live forever.  21