Tour of Britain: Health benefits of cycling

PUBLISHED: 19:17 08 September 2009 | UPDATED: 00:08 16 June 2010

NHS Devon is calling on the public to consider the health benefits of cycling, as the Tour of Britain race pedals through the county. Thousands of spectators are expected to line the route as the race, which features professional cyclists from around the

NHS Devon is calling on the public to consider the health benefits of cycling, as the Tour of Britain race pedals through the county.

Thousands of spectators are expected to line the route as the race, which features professional cyclists from around the world led by Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins, finishes a stage in Bideford on September 17 and starts again the following day in Hatherleigh. Cyclists will pass through Exmoor, Barnstaple, Crediton, Tiverton and Honiton over the two days.

Virginia Pearson, director of public health, said: "NHS Devon is very pleased the Tour of Britain is coming to our county and the encouragement it will give to spectators to take up or increase their cycling. The activity, whether for leisure or commuting, is a proven way to stay fit, is fun and helps the environment".

Department of Health research shows that 20-30 minutes of moderate cycling three times a week can result in an increased strength of leg muscles, improvements in chronic conditions and a reduction in blood pressure. Lower cholesterol levels and weight loss can also be achieved.

Health professionals will be in Hatherleigh as Stage Seven of the race starts to advise on cycling as a form of exercise and give general public health tips.

One of those attending will be avid cyclist Richard Coleman-Taylor, who works for NHS Devon in the Stop Smoking Service in north Devon. He said: "I started cycling seriously at 17, when a school-friend got me interested in mountain biking and it's something I've been passionate about ever since. For me, cycling has contributed so much to my life.

"It's kept me fit and healthy and provided me with a cheap mode of transport, that's also environmentally friendly. It gave me an interest in my personal health and nutrition that led me to study and eventually work in healthcare as part of the Devon Stop Smoking Service. Without doubt though, the most important aspect to me is how much fun cycling is."

NHS Devon has recently launched the 'Cycle to your Heart's Content' programme with Teignbridge District Council to help people get cycling, become fitter and meet new friends as part of an active lifestyle.


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