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.