Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Public Health

British National Health Experts: Cycling Safer Than Couch Sitting

A British national health authority is advising UK residents to make walking and cycling the norm for short trips, in order to reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with the nation's obesity epidemic.

false

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence issued a 97-page report Wednesday on the topic with a number of recommendations. The National Health Service reports that 26 percent of British people are obese, while in America the figure is 35.7 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The researchers recommends biking and walking as the best way to integrate more activity into the daily lives of British people, and they're pressuring government officials to get to work on making active transportation a more attractive choice, according to the Guardian.

The report urges local governments to install more complete bicycle infrastructure, help schools establish "walking buses," and encourage employers to create programs aimed at helping staff members drive less.

"We all face barriers in changing our lifestyles and many of us feel we don't have the time or the inclination to add regular physical activity into our lives," Dr. Harry Rutter, an obesity researcher who led the study for NICE, told the Guardian. "But walking and cycling – to work, to school, to the shops or elsewhere – can make a huge difference. It's an opportunity to make these activities part of normal, routine daily behavior."

Dr. Rutter has had to defend cycling from worrywarts who questioned whether the activity is too dangerous.

"This focus on the dangers of cycling is something to do with the visibility of them, and the attention it's given," he said. "What we don't notice is that if you were to spend an hour a day riding a bike rather than being sedentary and driving a car there's a cost to that sedentary time. It's silent, it doesn't get noticed. What we're talking about here is shifting the balance from that invisible danger of sitting still towards the positive health benefits of cycling."

Researchers report that inactivity in the UK is as big a public health problem as smoking. According to their metrics only one in four British women, and one in three men, are getting enough exercise to live healthy lives.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Opinion: Connect the Dots of Manhattan’s Missing Bike Lanes

Only a few miles of missing protected lanes stand in the way of a robust bike network.

April 15, 2024

Monday’s Headlines: Thanking the Academy Edition

We would be remiss if we didn't offer some photos and copy about Friday's George Polk Awards ceremony, plus other news.

April 15, 2024

Civic Panel Pushes For Atlantic Ave. Safety Upgrades

Brooklyn Community Board 2 stopped short of calling for a more aggressive redesign of a street where drivers have killed six pedestrians in the last decade.

April 15, 2024

Vandals Commit Mass Arborcide Near the Greenway in Kissena Park

Hundreds of young trees were ripped from the ground — some stolen, some just left for dead — near the greenway in Kissena Park in Queens.

April 14, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: The Polk’s on Us Edition

This afternoon, our reporter Jesse Coburn will journey to Midtown to accept Streetsblog's first George Polk Award, one of journalism's highest honors. But before that, here's the news.

April 12, 2024
See all posts