Cyclists in the Netherlands live on average six months longer than their non-biking counterparts, according to researchers at the University of Utrecht.
Each year, cycling prevents around 11,000 deaths, the researchers say in the June 11 edition of the American Journal of Public Health.
The average Dutch person cycles about 75 minutes each week, which accounts for just over a quarter of all trips made.
The researchers combined cycling statistics with a new calculation tool devised by the World Health Organisation. This enabled them to estimate how much the death rate in the Netherlands decreases through regular bicycle use.
‘We were able to calculate that on average, for every hour of cycling people live about an hour longer,’ says researcher Carlijn Kamphuis. ‘For Dutch people, this equates to living for about six months longer for every 75 minutes of cycling each week.’
The concrete figures are important to convince policy makers about the significance of promoting cycling measures, Kamphuis says.
‘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.’
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