Top 5 Benefits of an Active Travel
As journeys were restricted we all benefited from a big improvement in air quality and all the mental and physical benefits of getting out and about under our own steam. The government and local councils are keen to keep the momentum going, and even before COVID were planning to invest billions of pounds in cycle-lanes and pedestrianisation.
So – what’s the real benefit of active travelling? Here’s our top 5.
1) Mortality - Research from The University of Edinburgh suggests 150 minutes of walking and cycling each week can reduce mortality by up to 11%, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and Type II diabetes.
2) Mental health - Exercise helps us control the hormones responsible for stress, which can help us stay in better control of our emotions. Stress is believed to account for over 30% of sickness absence in the NHS, costing the service £300m-£400m per year (NHS Employers), boosting our ability to take control of these hormones is critical for our long-term mental wellbeing.
3) Productivity at work - Participants in the “Physical Activity for Health Research Centre” (PAHRC) study who lived shorter distances from work, as well as those who walked or biked to work, reported feeling more calm, relaxed, enthusiastic, and satisfied with their commutes and as a result were more productive on the job than those who had long commutes and those who drove in cars or took the underground, trains or buses.
4) Environmental changes - As well as the substantial health benefits to be gained from building physical activity into our daily lives, there are also important environmental implications. Recent figures for the UK reveal that the transport sector is responsible for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions, the most of any sector. A global lock-down saw superpowers such as China’s air pollution halve and smog-filled cities such as Milan and Italy have set out plans to permanently reduce car usage.
5) Saving Money - The Cycle to Work Scheme offers a tax-efficient route of travelling to the office — even if only part of your commute is on two wheels. If your company has signed up to the scheme, you can buy a bike and related safety equipment worth up to £1,000 via salary sacrifice, which could unlock savings of up to £400 for higher rate taxpayers. The remaining cost is spread over a year in monthly, interest-free payments. With rising public transport costs, you are also saving the cost of rail & bus fares, or fuel and parking if you currently drive to work.
With Sadiq Khan aiming for 80% of all journeys in London to be made by public transport, walking or cycling by 2041, there is certainly impetus behind active travel, and we are beginning to see the impact. Cycling seems to be increasing quickly in London with reports from some bike shops of an 80% increase in sales. Certainly, with fears around maintaining social distance on the Tube, trains and buses, active travelling looks like a very attractive option.