The World Health Organization focused for decades on infectious
diseases, but now it’s putting non-communicable diseases near the top of
its agenda. Lately, it released its 2010 ‘Global status report on non-communicable diseases’.
According to WHO, chronic illnesses account for 63 percent of deaths
worldwide. Among WHO’s top targets are: no tobacco, less sugar, fat and
salt and… increasing physical activity.
Indeed, there is now an extremely strong body of research supporting
the link between regular physical activity and good health. Regular
physical activity namely reduces the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease, of developing diabetes, of developing
high blood pressure, of developing colon and breast cancer, reduces
feelings of depression and anxiety and helps control weight.
But there is more: studies provide even stronger evidence for
associations between regular health and cycling. One of the most
substantive studies in this field provided direct evidence that regular
cyclists are likely to have decreased mortality compared to
non-cyclists, irrespective of the other physical activity they do.
As for most people, the easiest and most acceptable forms of
physical activity are those that can be incorporated into everyday life,
cycling has obviously the potential to make a very significant
contribution to improving public health.