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Ride Your Bike and Live Longer Suggests Research

In a paper published in the eight issue Environmental Health Perspectives in 2010, the authors suggest that for individuals who shift from car to bicycle, we estimated that beneficial effects of increased physical activity are substantially larger (3–14 months gained) than the potential mortality effect of increased inhaled air pollution doses (0.8–40 days lost) and the increase in traffic accidents (5–9 days lost).

The abstract of the article, titled Do the Health Benefits of Cycling Outweigh the Risks? authored by Jeroen Johan de Hartog, Hanna Boogaard, Hans Nijland, and Gerard Hoek is produced below.  The full article is available here.

Objective:  Although from a societal point of view a modal shift from car to bicycle may have beneficial health effects due to decreased air pollution emissions, decreased greenhouse gas emissions and increased levels of physical activity, for the shifting individual adverse health effects such as higher exposure to air pollution and risk of a traffic accident may prevail. This paper describes whether the health benefits from the increased physical activity of a modal shift for urban commutes outweigh the health risks.

Data sources and extraction:  We have summarized the literature for air pollution, traffic accidents and physical activity using systematic reviews supplemented with recent key studies.

Data synthesis: We quantified the impact on all-cause mortality when 500,000 people would make a transition from car to bicycle for short trips on a daily basis in the Netherlands. We have expressed mortality impacts in life years gained or lost making use of life table calculations. For the individuals who shift from car to bicycle, we estimated that beneficial effects of increased physical activity are substantially larger (3 – 14 months gained) than the potential mortality effect of increased inhaled air pollution doses (0.8 – 40 days lost) and the increase in traffic accidents (5 – 9 days lost). Societal benefits are even larger due to a modest reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and traffic accidents.

Conclusions: On average, the estimated health benefits of cycling were substantially larger than the risks relative to car driving for individuals shifting mode of transport.

It should be noted that this research is based on cycling in the Netherlands and hence the transferability of the findings to other cycling environments such as Australia needs to be established. Still it is good to see positive research.

Thanks to Environmental Health Perspectives for publishing the article which was found via BikeRadar.com.

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  1. Tweets that mention Ride Your Bike and Live Longer Suggests Research | Aushiker: Bicycling & Hiking in Western Australia -- Topsy.com - November 15, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Aushiker, We Love Cycling. We Love Cycling said: New research suggests switching your car for a bike will help you live longer. Another great reason to get pedalling! http://bit.ly/bcQ8eF […]

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