Bicycling can be a blast. You may have fond memories of riding along sidewalks in your neighborhood as a child, but now that you’re all grown up, you might have written off the use of two wheels as “kid stuff.” If that’s your mindset, though, you’re only kidding yourself.
Doctors recommend 20 minutes of robust physical activity per day. For many people, choosing to bike to work for their commute can put them in compliance with their doctor’s orders.
Biking to work can also save you money on gas, parking, and gym memberships. And, of course, this fun physical activity can also help to reduce your carbon emissions—if you’re into that sort of thing.
In addition to these benefits, Dutch researchers are now saying that riding a bicycle can literally help you live longer.
A team from the Netherlands’ Utrecht University surveyed 50,000 Dutch people, examining their mobility patterns.
According to a summary on the university’s website, researchers determined that “The average Dutch person cycles about 75 minutes each week. That accounts for over a quarter of all trips made.”
The scientists then put this survey data into the the Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT), a new project of the World Health Organization (WHO).
“This tool is designed to help conduct an economic assessment of the health benefits of walking or cycling by estimating the value of reduced mortality that results from specified amounts of walking or cycling,” the HEAT website explains.
When the researchers plugged the data from their survey into this powerful public health tool, they found that the average Dutch cyclist would live about six months longer thanks to their healthy habit.
Utrecht University professor Carlijn Kamphuis worked on the study and pointed out this data suggests that, at least in the Netherlands, “it appears that about 6.5 thousand premature deaths are saved each year through cycling.”
Great News for Cycling Advocates
“This is important information to convince policy makers about the significance of promoting cycling measures,” Kamphuis told her university’s website.
“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.”
American cycling advocates People for Bikes further crunched the numbers on this study and realized that this research essentially meant that “Every minute you spend on a bicycle increases your lifespan by one minute.”
People for Bikes joked that since you get back every minute you spend on a bike in the form of a longer life, this essentially means that “bicycles are instantaneous teleportation devices.”
So the next time someone tells you to be safe on your bike, you can brazenly tell them, “Be safe in your sedentary lifestyle, Jack!”