Let us start with some numbers. A study estimated that there are around two billion bicycle users all over the world. Aside from specific dedicated sports routines, cycling belongs among the most popular physical activities. Various data show that a great number of people don’t even consider cycling to be an exercise or an activity they have to force themselves to undergo. For example, in the US, over 35 million people aged seven and older ride a bike as a part of spending their leisure time, according to the National Sporting Goods Association’s 2017 survey. And what’s more striking, the Physical Activity Council’s annual study tracking sports, fitness, and recreation participation in the US states that cycling is a common pastime among people who claim to never participate in sports nor exercise. These numbers can convince anybody about the influence of cycling on the overall health of the population.
There’s no doubt about the vast pile of health benefits any physical activity has but a group of researchers, more specifically epidemiologists, from the UK, Australia, Austria, and Finland realized that there’s little insight into how respective sports affect individuals’ health. These researchers decided to delve deeper into a British study surveying 80,306 adults participating in cycling, racquet sports, running, swimming, aerobics, and football, all of which are considered among leisure activities. Then, over a follow-up period of 9 years, the collected data were linked with all causes of death within the study group and the results clearly showed that the group riding bicycles was 15 % less likely to die from any cause than the one that did not.
A curious result is that lower-intensity level cyclists are somewhat less prone to premature deaths over those who partake in high- or professional-intensity level of cycling. Our best guess is that everything should be done in moderation and overstraining never really helped anyone. The key is in the regularity and healthy habits. So if you commute by bicycle every day, you might be looking out for your body more than you thought.
So, not only is cycling an environmentally friendly form of transport, it’s creating a potentially longer lifespan for bicycle users. This detailed study should therefore serve as an inspiration for city councils all over the globe to shift their future infrastructure plans towards more bike- and pedestrian-friendly variants, which would encourage more people to get out there and ride, both for the joy and the now proven health benefits.