Active transportation, like walking and cycling, is not only environmental friendly and beneficial for your wallet. There is also a lot of health benefits that comes along. We have gathered some key facts and resources that will convince you – if you weren’t already.
150 mins’ a week for grown-ups…
Did you know that insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for premature death worldwide? Did you also know that at least 150 minutes of physical activity throughout the week, about 20 minutes of walking or cycling a day, can make a huge difference for your health as an adult?
… And 60 mins’ a day for children and adolescents
Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Walking and cycling are key means of transportation, enabling people to engage in regular physical activity on a daily basis. Biking together with your child to school can be a great way to get moving together!
Worldwide, 1 in 4 adults and 3 in 4 adolescents (aged 11–17 years), do not meet the global recommendations for physical activity. As countries develop economically, levels of inactivity increase. Therefore, we need to build cities and societies that encourage walking, cycling and other kinds of active transportation.
Health benefits associated with regular physical activity
- Lower risk of early death
- Lower risk of coronary heart disease
- Lower risk of stroke
- Lower risk of high blood pressure
- Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- Lower risk of colon cancer and breast cancer
- Reduced depression
- Better cognitive function (for older adults)
Investing in active transportation contributes to sustainable development
Active transportation generates a healthy and non-air-polluting lifestyles and investing in policies to promote walking and cycling can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG:s)
For example, SDG number three: Good health and well-being. Besides from health benefits, policy actions to promote walking and cycling can also contribute to achieving goal number nine: Industry, Innovation and infrastructure.
Physical activity boosts children’s health – and grades!
Physical activity leads to better school performance. In the Swedish Bunkeflo project, a group of pupils got about 40 minutes extra daily physical activity. When leaving primary school, the group had better grades and health than the children who did not get the extra physical activity.
… And decreases employee sickness absence
Employees that cycle to work regularly have on average 1.3 days less sickness absence per year.
Less air pollution – better health
Air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe. Did you know that it’s causing almost 800 000 premature deaths per year? Less motorized traffic and more cyclists and pedestrians would reduce these premature deaths by reducing harmful emissions.
Investing in active transportation pays back
The city of Helsinki calculates that every Euro invested in infrastructure for cycling gives eight Euro back in socio-economic benefits. In Norway, the Health Directorate calculates that each cycled kilometer results in 26 Norwegian crowns (about 3 Euro) per person in socio-economic health benefits. Both of these calculations focus on the benefits of improved health, meaning that increased walking and cycling will have additional environmental benefits from reduced emissions and noise pollution.
Read more about the benefits of physical activity and active transportation:
- Physical activity Key facts (WHO)
- Global action plan on physical activity 2018–2030: more active people for a healthier world (WHO)
- 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- The Sustainable Development Agenda (UN)
- Cardiovascular disease burden from ambient air pollution in Europe reassessed using novel hazard ratio functions (European Heart Journal)
- Physical Activity During Growth. Effects on Bone, Muscle, Fracture Risk and Academic Performance (Lund University)
- Cycling facts and figures (European Cyclists’ Federation)
- Cycling Delivers on the Global Goals (European Cyclists’ Federation)
- Helsinki Bicycle Account 2015 (City of Helsinki)
- Vunne kvalitetsjusterte leveår (QALYs) ved fysisk aktivitet (Helsedirektoratet)
Data by country: