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Cycling to health

Cycling has been my main hobby for over 30 years. Initially in my late teens, I embarked on many an expedition with my brother David during the summer holidays. These expeditions began initially around home, then expanded to upper Nidderdale, an area we spent the latter part of the summer holidays every year.

I started to get more serious about cycling and experienced how the bicycle could be used as a mode of transport to venture to faraway places. This included a holiday to western Scotland and places further afield. I have a particular vivid memory of cycling to Bridlington and back the day before I got my O level results and being overtaken by a convoy of police vans on their way to patrol the picket lines for the miners’ strike.

There are many proven health benefits to cycling. Once the past 5 years since my children became less dependent, I have got back into cycling and find it a great way to unwind and relax.

My bicycles are my main mode of transport (I have 4!) and most days I cycle to work. I find that when I arrive at work I am in a better frame of mind than if I were to have sat in a traffic jam. Plus I can get to work in the same amount of time it would take me to drive and am also 2 stone lighter than before I started using my bicycle as my main mode of transport!

The health benefits of cycling go far beyond being a way of controlling your weight. For example:

  • People who cycle regularly in mid-adulthood typically enjoy a level of fitness equivalent to someone 10 years younger and their life expectancy is two years above the average.
  • On average, regular cycle commuters take more than one day per year less off sick than colleagues who do not cycle to work, saving UK businesses around £83m annually. Also, people who do not cycle-commute regularly have a 39% higher mortality rate than those who do.
  • The health benefits of cycling outweigh the injury risks by between 13:1 and 415:1, according to studies. The figure that is most often quoted – and endorsed by the Government – is 20:1 (life years gained due to the benefits of cycling v the life-years lost through injuries).
  • Boys aged 10-16 who cycle regularly to school are 30% more likely to meet recommended fitness levels, while girls who cycle are 7 times more likely to do so.

There are various schemes to help people get cycling. A recent example is the West Yorkshire Go cycling campaign with low cost or free training sessions, and ways of getting a bike that needs some TLC repaired and back on the road. There are also Sky ride sessions which are bike rides lead by trained leaders on quiet or closed roads.

Here at Community Links we also make it easy for staff to get access to a bicycle through the cycle to work scheme and we pay a mileage rate (20p per mile) if you travel on company business on your bike.

So why not give it a go!

For more information about Bike week visit – http://bikeweek.org.uk/

For more information about Men’s Health week visit – https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw