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Quantifying the contribution of utility cycling to population levels of physical activity: an analysis of the Active People Survey

02 Feb 2017


Population levels of physical activity are far below recommendations limiting its public health benefits. Utility cycling (i.e. cycling for transport purposes) may be a means of increasing this activity. Empirical evidence quantifying the contribution of utility cycling to the population levels of physical activity is sparse.


The English Active People Survey (APS) was analysed to assess the likelihood of meeting UK physical activity guidelines in those who reported utility cycling compared with those who did not. Odds ratios were adjusted for important socioeconomic confounders using a logistic regression model.


In the full sample, unadjusted odds ratio for meeting physical activity guidelines in favour of utility cyclists was 5.21 (95% confidence interval (CI) 4.96–5.47) and adjusted odds ratio was 4.08 (95% CI 3.88–4.29). The odds were even higher for utility cyclists in inner London [adjusted OR: 6.08 (4.07–7.86)]. The pattern was consistent regardless of the number of activities through which people met the physical activity guideline.


Utility cycling can make a significant contribution to levels of physical activity. As an activity that can easily integrate into everyday life, utility cycling appears to be a pragmatic policy option for public health decision-makers.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Journal of Public Health