78% of UK cyclists fear their mental health will be negatively affected should the government enforce a nationwide confinement without daily exercise, according to new research.
The figures come from a survey by specialist cycling insurance provider, Cycleplan, which questioned 547 regular cyclists about their views on the current coronavirus outbreak and its impact on their daily lives.
On 23rd March, the UK Government imposed restrictions on movement which state that the public should only exercise outside once a day. However, stricter measures have been mooted by a number of experts to help control the spread of the coronavirus. It’s particularly topical ahead of the Easter bank holiday weekend, as a number of individuals may still not heed the message to stay home. Almost eight in ten cyclists would be against this action.
When asked how they benefit from cycling, 66% of respondents said that the activity boosts their mood, with 47% saying it helps them to manage their anxiety. A further 51% of respondents stated that it helps them to reduce stress.
The survey also found that, under current restrictions, 86% of respondents plan to continue cycling outside, with 38% saying they plan to cycle outdoors more often than usual. Over half (56%) said that the main reason behind this is to manage their mental or physical health. A further 29% said it was simply a good way to get out of the house, with one in 10 saying they still need to cycle to work.
The results also suggest that maintaining the public‘s to exercise outside will have wider, more far-reaching positive implications for the environment. Eight in ten people questioned said that, since the start of the outbreak, they have reduced their reliance on their car and cycled or walked for essential short distances instead.
Cycleplan ambassador and Olympic road race medallist, Lizzie Deignan, said: “There are so many health benefits to keeping active and riding your bike. Not only the obvious physical ones, but the endorphins released give your mood and energy a much-needed boost at this really difficult time.
“We need everyone to follow the government guidelines, which are there for good reason, so that we can keep this much needed simple pleasure. It’s also great to see so many key workers using cycling as their chosen mode of transport and the reduced reliance on the car at this time.”
John Woosey, managing director of Cycleplan, added: “Whilst it’s absolutely critical that the public adheres to government regulations during this crisis, we also need to remember the importance of maintaining a sense of general wellbeing. The exercise and fresh air offered by a cycle ride may have previously been taken for granted – but these results highlight just how vital a role cycling can play in keeping our mental health on track during this crisis. We therefore remain hopeful that this can be maintained over the coming weeks.“