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Dutch study shows cyclists live longer

A study undertaken at the University of Utrecht, via its Healthy Urban Living programme, shows that cyclists in the Netherlands live an average of six months longer than people who do not bike.

Though it has long been known that there are health benefits to biking on a regular basis, this is the first research to shed light on just how significant they are. The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

An hour cycled is an hour gained

Using cycling data and a computational tool from the World Health Organisation (WHO), researchers were able to estimate that for every hour a person spends cycling, they live an average of one hour longer.

The typical Dutch cyclist spends around 75 minutes per week on a bike, meaning he or she will gain around six months of lifespan.

Looked at another way, cycling prevents around 11.000 premature deaths in the Netherlands each year.

Cycling for a healthy society

The study forms part of Utrecht University’s initiative to promote sustainable policies. Aside from cycling’s health benefits for individuals, it also helps to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion.

A population breathing cleaner air and enjoying increased exercise is likely to place less burden on the health care system.

All in all, the researchers estimate that the popularity of cycling in the Netherlands has large-scale health benefits amounting to five per cent of the Dutch gross domestic product.

They hope their findings will serve to further convince politicians, in the Netherlands and elsewhere, to invest in improvements to cycling infrastructure and programmes.

Emily

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Emily McCallum

Emily grew up in a small coastal town in western Canada and moved to Utrecht in 2014, after completing her studies in Vancouver and Germany. So far, she has been...

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