Crucially, the study also highlighted that once taken up, cycling is easier to stick to, requiring less willpower than other types of exercise.
Making it easier for employees to cycle to work should be a priority for every single employer out there, but as we know, there are some crucial challenges in getting more people into cycling. So what can be done?
Talk about it: Our experience with employers tells us that word of mouth is a powerful factor in helping increase interest in cycling and getting more people to give it a try. Employers, especially smaller businesses, can help these conversations by hosting cycling to work or cycle safety events with outside speakers, and by displaying information that showcases the benefits of bike riding – things like sending emails, displaying posters, and issuing flyers. The more people hear about cycling’s health benefits and how it can, in fact, change their lives, the more likely they’ll be to give it a try.
Make it easy: Lots of employees don’t think about cycling because they don’t realise how easy it is to get affordable access to the latest equipment. Programmes like Cyclescheme are government protected and make it easy for employees to get a bike tax-free while spreading the cost. What’s more, it’s completely free for employers and can be set up online in a few quick and easy steps.
Start small: Not all businesses will have the capacity to install cutting edge facilities like showers and changing rooms, but even things like installing small, mobile bike racks are a small step to giving employees more reason to take up cycling. Some companies even incentivise cycling to work by awarding employees extra holiday once they have completed a certain number of journeys or miles. Look around at what others are doing and see what you could model in your own business.
Lead from the top: Don’t underestimate the power of the role model – senior leaders can have a huge impact on setting an example about healthier behaviours. By cycling to work and talking about how cycling is good for your health, senior leaders can play a big role in getting more employees interested in cycling to work. This is especially true for smaller businesses where people have more frequent contact with those at the top.
Remember, it helps the planet too: We know cycling to work is good for us as individuals, but it’s also critical to help society become more sustainable. With more evidence showing the hugely damaging effects of air pollution on people’s health, especially in big cities like London, cycling to work has the added benefit of reducing toxic emissions, which is good for everyone.
You can also engage your employees with the use of imagery and infographics, like the one below, which we designed to capture and promote the benefits of cycling to work.
Click on the image or the button below to download the pack in a handy .zip file. This includes the full infographic as well as individual frames and posters -perfect for sharing with your employees and getting them talking about the health benefits of cycling.
So how exactly does cycling improve health?
We already know that cycling reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer – largely because cycling is great exercise. But did you know that cycling is also good for weight loss (which offers the roundabout benefit that when you weigh less, cycling becomes easier)?
So how good is cycling for weight loss?
The short answer is, “it depends”. There are simply too many variables at play. The distance and speed cycled, the intensity of the route (cycling uphill will understandably burn more calories than cycling on flat roads), and the weight of the cyclist themselves (heavier people use more energy to move, meaning they will typically burn more calories than someone who weighs less), all affect calories burned from cycling.
That said, according to Harvard Medical School a cyclist weighing 125 pounds, who cycles consistently at speeds between 12 and 13.9 miles an hour, for half an hour, will burn approximately 240 calories. Someone weighing 185 pounds would burn 355 calories. Increase the speed or intensity, and cyclists can burn even more calories.
It’s safe to say then that when combined with a sensible diet, cycling can contribute in a big way to weight loss, and the health benefits that consequently brings.
Of course, the benefits of cycling to work go beyond the financial and physical – there are many mental health benefits to cycling, too.
Cycling and Mental Health
Millions of working days are lost each year through conditions like stress and anxiety, and the personal cost is even greater. It’s an issue that every employer has a moral obligation to take seriously. One thing that all employers should be doing is encouraging their staff to cycle to work – it can have a dramatic impact in improving mental wellbeing. Here are four mental health advantages of cycling:
Cycling makes us mentally sharper
Making regular journeys by bike is an easy way to live a more active lifestyle. Aside from making us physically fitter, a number of studies have shown that cycling can enhance brain function and repair, and make us sharper and more alert by speeding up connections in the brain. This could have the added benefit of helping us to be more efficient and productive when at work, in turn making it easier to leave on time and achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Cycling helps us to switch off
Whether we’re at work or at home, technology is a massive part of our lives that is undoubtedly a force for good. At the same time, studies have shown that too much time glued to our phones and laptops isn't great for our health – mental or physical - so getting the balance right and finding time to switch off is really important.
Cycling to work not only boosts physical fitness, it has the added bonus of helping us put away our phones and focus on the world around us, giving us much-needed time to reflect and make sense of all the things we’ve got going on day-to-day. There’s the extra bonus of more time spent outdoors too.
Cycling helps us to manage stress and anxiety
As a form of exercise, cycling helps us control the hormones responsible for stress, which can help us stay in better control of our emotions. With workplace stress and anxiety on the rise, boosting our ability to take control of them is critical for our long-term mental wellbeing. Our own Cyclescheme data shows that almost half of those that cycle to work said that doing so improved their mental health, with two-fifths saying it has had a direct impact on lowering their workplace stress. Just think of the benefits for the UK workforce if every employee could fit a 45-minute cycle into their day?
Cycling makes us happier
Cycling makes our body release feel good hormones. When we cycle, we feel better – we can’t get away from it. When hormones like serotonin, dopamine and endorphins are released, stress and anxiety is reduced. Finding ways to be happier more often and for longer is especially important now, as an uncertain political and economic climate is taking its toll on employee morale across the UK.
As a result, having happy employees boosts productivity, increases employee resilience, and reduces staff turnover.
You can use our happiness tracker to understand why cycling has these positive outputs on business performance.
So we now know that cycling is good for mental health – but how does it actually make people happier across the day? The Cyclescheme Happiness Tracker shows you how cycling to work helps employees to be happier more often and for longer; from the moment they get up to when they go to bed at night.
By getting more employees to take up cycling as a regular part of their commute, businesses can increase staff retention, boost employee morale and increase their chances of sustained, long-term economic growth. It’s also a cost-effective and simple employee benefit to offer your staff.
Ready to sign up? Register your company with Cyclescheme here or using the button below.
Cycle to Work Day will be back on Thursday 8th August.
For 2019, businesses from around the world are registering to take part to access the excellent benefits available to your staff and your organisation when more people ride bikes.
Cyclescheme is taking a more holistic approach to cycle to work. Find out how...