The benefits of riding a bicycle instead of using the car are visible on health and outweigh the 20-fold safety risks. The European Cycling Federaton has gathered on one page the conclusions of some scientific studies on the well-being connected to the movement modalities, especially in the working home stretch. Here is the translation.
Live longer and healthier
- Who uses the bicycle lives on average 2 years longer than those who do not pedal and take 15% less sick days.
- An adult who regularly uses the bicycle will have a level of physical fitness equal to that of a person 10 years younger.
source: Tuxworth, B. 1986, Quality control. Sport and Leisure, 1986 Vol. 27 No. 3 pp. 32-33
Better fitness: less weight, less stress and sleep disorders
Countries with higher rates of bicycle use and walking movements generally have lower obesity rates.
Flint's research and in 2014 found that the more 'active' movement patterns at work lead to a lowering of the body mass index and a more healthy distribution of body mass components in both men and adult women.
Source: Flint ea 2014 Associations between active commuting, body fat, and body mass index: population based, cross sectional study in the United Kingdom BMJ 2014;349:g4887 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g4887 (Published 19 August 2014).
Anche Mytton e a, in 2016 looked for associations between active 'commuting' and 'body mass index', finding that those who used the bicycle to go to the office for over a year register a lower body mass index than those who have never cycled to go to the office and the effect is even more evident for overweight people. source
Pedaling has an effect on psychophysical health, improving levels of well-being, self-confidence and stress tolerance, while reducing fatigue, sleep disturbances and a range of various other symptoms.
source: Boyd, H., Hillman, M., Nevill, A., Pearce, A. and Tuxworth, B. (1998). Health-related effects of regular cycling on a sample of previous non-exercisers, Resume of main findings.
More individual and public health
Walking grants benefits to people. Many studies confirm that the greatest positive impact on public health is obtained raising the bike use ratings, favouring walking as a positive habit for people who don't tend to ride a bike.
Source Kelly P et al. "Systematic review and meta-analysis of reduction in all-cause mortality from walking and cycling and shape of dose response relationship."
Ekelund e a 2015, states in the EPIC study, that observing all the causes of mortality in relation to all types of physical activity comes to the same conclusions: even small increases in activity in inactive individuals produce an overall benefit in public health.
source: Ulf Ekelund, Heather A Ward, Teresa Norat, Jian’an Luan, Anne M May, Elisabete Weiderpass, Stephen S Sharp, ea… Physical activity and all-cause mortality across levels of overall and abdominal adiposity in European men and women: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study (EPIC). Am J Clin Nutr First published ahead of print January 14, 2015 as doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.100065.
An antidote to the detriment of environmental pollution
In 2011 Rojac-Rueda et al. they examined the health risks and the benefits of cycling in an urban environment, comparing them to the use of the car and in particular they have organized the Barcelona bike sharing system. They found that the benefits for the health of physical activity were many compared to the risks arising from pollutants and road accidents.
source: Rojac-Rueda, D et al „The health risks and benefits of cycling in urban environments compared with car use: health impact assessment study“ BMJ 2011; 343: d4521 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d452
Tainio and al. to 2016 have answered the question that is often asked: Can air pollutants frustrate the benefits of walking and riding a bicycle? And the answer is a resounding No until you pedal for more than 5 hours in some of the most polluted cities the world. They also noted that the health benefits are greater than the risks due to air pollution for the first hour of pedaling a day source.
Translation adapted from the European Cycling Federation