This year, 100 people have completed the first, 12-week Cycle4Health programme run by West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect project.
Run by Cycling UK and CityConnect, Cycle4Health is a scheme designed to take participants from inactivity to regular cycling. Mainly aimed at increasing activity, the course is free to attend and is run from a cycling hub in each of West Yorkshire’s five districts.
The first course of summer has now come to an end but more will be running through the year.
Regular, moderate exercise lasting 30 minutes every day of the week helps people to remain healthy, reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. It also improves mood and wellbeing and helps weight control.
As reported by the BBC1, a recently published study which takes five years of data shows that regular cycling can cut the risk of death from any cause by 41% and heart disease specifically by 46%. And that’s just from an average distance of 30 miles a week a 3 mile commute twice a day.
Many people are out of the cycling habit with only 1 in 5 people in the region regularly taking part in this level of activity. This is for a variety of reason, but time constraints, inconvenience and lack of local infrastructure are all big factors in stopping people being active.
Cycling is one of the best ways of breaking down these barriers and people who cycle to work combine a necessary journey with physical activity. Bike commutes could also be a carefree pedal down the canal, or a concentrated workout to rival any spinning class and the right route can save time on the way to work. For some, cycling may even be faster than any other means of transport.
CityConnect is working with national cycling charity Cycling UK to deliver the Cycle4Health programme to help more people overcome their perceived barriers to cycling and living an active lifestyle. Participants who may have not cycled or done any regular exercise in years, take part in 12 weeks of steadily increasing activity, culminating in rides they never dreamed they’d be capable of.
At the launch of Cycle4Health 2017, Councillor Keith Wakefield, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Chair said:
“It’s great to see such a huge interest from local people. It clearly shows that people are prepared to change their behaviour when it comes to transport, health and fitness, all they need is that initial encouragement and support from organisations such as CityConnect and Cycling UK.
“West Yorkshire Combined Authority is proud to support such an important initiative which will improve lives no end. As Chair of Transport, encouraging people to choose cycling as their preferred mode of transport is something I see vital to the improvement of local congestion problems, air quality and our road networks in general.”
One of the course instructors, Alice Appleton, shared her experience of the delivering the course:
“For one of the ladies who learned to ride at the beginning of the 12-week course, this was to be a very challenging day: the first time riding to Temple Newsam park along the Wyke Beck Way cycle route, a return journey of some 7 miles. She managed it in style, and afterwards we thought how great it would be for her if we had some ‘before’ and ‘after’ footage – from the first session on the tennis courts struggling to find her balance, to today’s trip – to mark what an amazing journey she has made.”
Mary, a participant on the course, said:
“I had gone from no exercise per week to over 4 hours per week. And lost half a stone in the process”
People can find out more information by visiting the CityConnect website or by contacting Tom Murray at Cycling UK on 07825 983464 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all the latest active news in Calderdale, search for the hashtag #activecdale and #innercyclist.