An estimated 34,000 incidences of life-threatening conditions could be prevented if cycling increased at rates like those seen since the millennium in London, a report by exercise charity Sustrans has found.
These include cases of Type 2 diabetes, stroke, breast cancer and depression, which could be prevented in seven major cities between 2017 and 2040. It has estimated that more than one billion cycling trips would take place in 2040 in those major cities, which is an eight-fold increase from 123 million trips. This would, equate to over 242.4 million hours of additional physical activity, and prevent 628 early deaths. Additionally, it would generate £21 billion of savings to the economy, including £319 million of savings to the NHS over the 23-year period.
‘Our report provides 34,000 reasons why governments across the UK should prioritise investment in cycling. Every part of the country is facing a physical inactivity and obesity crisis, which is why decision-makers need to get on the front foot and tackle these problems head-on,’ said Xavier Brice, Chief Executive at Sustrans.
The Government recommends adults get 150 minutes of physical activity each week. However, in 2015 34% of men and 42% of women reported that they did not meet UK guidelines on physical activity. Physical inactivity currently costs the NHS around £1 billion each year, and when including costs to wider society, this rises to around £7.4 billion each year.
‘Prevention is better than cure is an often repeated mantra of health ministers across the UK, but tackling the deepening health crisis shouldn’t be left to the NHS alone. That’s why the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review should prioritise prevention and provide greater public funding for cycling to deliver our five ‘must haves’.’