​Could Cycling Help Save the NHS?

​Could you do more to help the NHS? By boosting your physical activity you could have more of an impact than you realise. Cycling has been championed as a vital activity that could help provide both health and environmental benefits, as well as save the NHS money each year. As an easy and affordable way to travel and get healthy, cycling probably has more benefits than you realise.

Cycling and the NHS

Sustrans, a leading walking and cycling charity, has released a report which claims that the NHS could save up to £319 million over 21 years if cycling was as popular in major UK cities as it is in London. They claim that incidents of diseases and conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, depression and stroke could be prevented. In London, the number of cyclists has nearly doubled since 2000, but across the UK levels have largely remained the same.

By increasing physical activity levels, people can not only experience health benefits for themselves, but the rest of the population too. Cycling is seen as an effective form of exercise and has a number of benefits for your health.

Benefits of regular cycling

Cycling has many benefits that you should seriously consider in a bid to improve your health and lifestyle. After the initial cost of buying a bike (likely a fraction of your monthly car payment), there are few ongoing costs, but bikes are generally easy to maintain. If saving money is one of your priorities this year, then leaving the car at home and cycling more could be a good way for you to save some money.

Cycling is also good for the environment. Using no fuel, you won’t be contributing to CO2 emissions and you’ll be helping to cut down on the traffic in your local area. Many cycle paths will take you along some beautiful sights, allowing you to enjoy more of your local landscape and benefit from being outdoors.

Cycling is a low-impact exercise, which means that it’s a great way to get fit for people of all fitness levels and abilities. It’s easy on the joints which makes it ideal for people who are recovering from injury or those who are concerned about the impact of running or high-intensity exercise. You can build your cycling fitness up at the gym or on an exercise bike before you head out on the real thing.

Exercise is often linked with helping symptoms of depression, and cycling could be one way to battle it. Cycling gets you outside, which increases your vitamin D intake, while getting you into shape and toning your body; building self-esteem and confidence.

The physical activity guidelines for adults recommend at least 150 minutes of exercise a week, which is something you can easily achieve through cycling. Whether you choose to cycle to work a few times a week or take longer rides at weekends, you’ll soon notice improvements in your fitness levels and overall health.

When cycling, it’s important that you put your safety first. Wearing a helmet is a must, as well as wearing reflective clothing in the dark. Equip your bike with lights and a bell so that people can hear and see you coming – as collisions between cyclists and pedestrians can have serious consequences. You should also familiarise yourself with the highway code for cyclists to make sure you follow the rules of the road.

Cycling is just one of the ways you can improve your fitness while doing your bit to help the NHS. If you’re concerned about your weight or fitness level and need help working out your options, there is plenty of information available on the NHS website. Getting out and being active is an important part of self-care, so start exercising and enjoy its many health benefits.