THE BENEFITS OF CYCLING
As a result of the National Fitness Survey, the Sports Council and the Health Education Authority have made recommendations for taking regular exercise as an essential ingredient of healthy living. Cycling fulfils these recommendations perfectly. Regular cycling can improve your health through:
Increased Fitness Your strength, stamina, aerobic fitness and general muscle function are all improved, with little risk of over exertion or strain. Regular exercise also facilitates other healthy behaviour especially diet and giving up smoking.
Lowering Risk of Heart Attack Your heart muscles are strengthened, resting pulse is lowered and blood fat levels reduced. People taking regular exercise suffer far less heart disease than people who don't. Cycling is one of the best ways of keeping fit.
Shedding Excess Weight By burning body fat, and raising your metabolic rate you can lose weight. If you exercise regularly you can enjoy a more varied diet without increasing body weight. Cycling is also a more comfortable form of exercise for the overweight than many other activities.
Reducing Stress Anxiety, stress and depression are all alleviated, partly due to the exercise itself, and also the sheer pleasure of riding a bike. Cycling is accessible, convenient for short journeys, and often faster across town than any other form of transport. It's an ideal means of exercising throughout life, because it can be adjusted to your individual level of fitness, and form part of your daily travelling routine.
GET ON YOUR BIKE
The chances are that you already own a bike, one in three adults do. But has it been left to deteriorate in the garden shed? Have your bike checked over for safety before you start to ride it again. If you don't feel competent to do this yourself, take it down to your local specialist cycle dealer for a service.
No Cycle? Think about the type of riding you might do before you buy a new bicycle. For short commuting journeys round town, a traditional roadster or shopper will be adequate. Recreational riders might prefer a mountain bike for the countryside, or a 'hybrid' for both town and trail riding.
Are You Sitting Comfortably? A proper riding position can make the world of difference to the enjoyment of cycling. Get an experienced cyclist, or your local cycle dealer, to give you advice. Purpose-designed cycling clothing and shoes, racing-style or leisure wear will also do a lot to make you feel at home on your bike.
Essential Accessories Don't leave home without a pump, puncture repair kit, spare inner tube, and a small tool kit - best carried in a small pack under the saddle. Lights are essential at night. as well as being a legal requirement, and reflective clothing is advisable.
A CYCLE FRIENDLY FUTURE
Actively promote cycling as an environmentally- friendly means of transport and as an effective way of improving public health.
CYCLING TOWARDS HEALTH AND SAFETY
Cycling is healthy, both for you as an individual, and for the community you live in. Regular cycling will improve your fitness and can help you live a long and healthy life. Riding a bike can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Three quarters of all our personal journeys are less than five miles long - that's no more than half an hour on a bike. Switching these short journeys from car to bicycle will benefit everyone in your community. You'll be helping to cut noise, air pollution and traffic congestion.
So go by cycle - you'll feel better for it!
A RECORD OF SAFETY
Even in the current hostile traffic environment, regular cycling is more likely to extend your life than shorten it. In fact, a bicycle user is seriously injured only once every 500,000 cycling kilometres - and a cycling death occurs only once every 17 million kilometres.
CYCLING: TOWARDS HEALTH AND SAFETY
The full British Medical Association report, 'Cycling: Towards Health and Safety' is published by Oxford University Press, priced £5.99 from all good bookshops.
Last updated 04 December 2000