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Cycling Expertise

Public Health

Ein Radfahrer
© Ralf Winkler

Health as a challenge for society

A clear lack of physical activity is the root cause of many diseases and physical ailments which are characteristic of today’s industrialised societies. A large share of jobholders work in offices and spend most of their everyday working life sitting down and are thus exposed to a high level of stress. Moreover, many people spend several hours daily in their cars or on public transport. Many children and young adults also show a considerable lack of exercise, which is often attributable to their spare time being marked by intensive media use. This trend poses major challenges to the healthcare system. After all, lack of physical activity causes major health problems, in particular long-term effects, culminating in far-reaching financial problems that give rise to increased healthcare costs.

Various actors from the public healthcare sector are increasingly relying on preventive measures to counter the lack of exercise and its effects. In this context, the promotion of cycling offers a huge potential with relatively low costs. Especially for people with little time for exercise, cycling to work is a good opportunity to integrate physical activity into day-to-day life. Even if the trip to work takes slightly longer, ultimately, ‘time is saved’ through a healthier and longer life.


Cycling offers positive health benefits to almost everybody. However, the type of cycling and level of intensity people engage in varies from person to person. The most significant health effects for each person also vary: While the emphasis for young cyclists aged between 20 and 30 is on pleasure, action and overall fitness, cycling offers older cyclists aged between 45 and 60 significant health benefits, such as strengthening the immune system and preventing cardiovascular diseases. For elderly people cycling is important because it helps stabilise their skeletal system and offers antiageing benefits.

Different types of bicycles can also provide health benefits depending on the age group and intended use. Therefore it is crucial to properly adjust the handlebar, the saddle and the pedals to ensure a comfortable sitting position. Fit and experienced cyclists can cycle at high speed on a road bike in a bent-over position. However, for more laid-back leisure cyclists of all age groups, the upright position provided by trekking or city bikes is more suitable. Ultimately, in order to enjoy long-term health benefits, it is crucial for cyclists to find out which type of bicycle and form of use they enjoy most.

Download: cye-a-10.pdf


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23. December 2012

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