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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.