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Health Benefits of Cycling
There are loads of websites claiming that cycling is good for you, and most of these websites belong to cycling groups, or others who have something to gain from a greater uptake of cycling. So, what do they state, and more importantly should we believe them?
Healthy Hearts
What about the old chestnut that cycling is good for your heart?
Well, this can be backed up by the statement contained in a government white paper titled "Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation" issued in 1999. This states "Physical activity is one of the key determinants of good health. A physically active lifestyle, including walking, cycling or participating in sport, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke and promotes good mental health." In fact, a report by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (Health Benefits of Physical Activity. October 2001) claims "Regular exercise, such as cycling, halves the chances of suffering from heart disease, the single largest cause of death in Britain".
So on this one, it looks as if they are right.
Other Aspects of Health
Some sources claim that in addittion to being good for your heart, cycling can also improve other areas of your helath - are they right?
Well, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology report mentioned above also states that regualr exercise , such as cycling, provides protection from strokes, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Also, just thinking about cycling shows it is a low impact activity and therefore is one of the safer ways to exercise without risk of over-exertion or strain to muscles and joints.
Again, it looks like the cycling lobby is correct.
Too Dangerous?
One of the main reasons non cyclists site for not cycling is a fear of being knocked off by motorists. Many websites dismiss this - should they?
The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions Transport Statistics of Great Britain (2001 edition) show that a cycling death in Britain occurs less than once every 18million cycling miles and that a serious injury occurs less than once ever 900,000 cycling miles. So there are risks in cycling, but is it too dangerous? The BMA (British Medical Association) in their report Cycling: Towards Health and Safety issued in 1992 concluded that the benefits of cycling outweigh the risk of injury.
So, again, it looks as if the websites are right to dimiss this claim.



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