WHO says cycling is encouraged for both travel and exercise

A welcome announcement from the World Health Organisation

(Image credit: In Pictures via Getty Images)

The World Health Organisation has recommended cycling to stay active during the coronavirus crisis.

There has been a lot of debate in the UK about what constitutes your daily exercise and how far cyclists should be riding, despite government offering no official guidance on time or distance.

But the WHO has made the welcome announcement that cycling is encouraged, both as transport and as a way of staying healthy during the global crisis.

A statement from the organisation said: “While cities around the world are introducing a broad range of measures to limit physical contacts to prevent and slow down the COVID-19 pandemic, many people might still have a need to move around cities to reach their workplaces when possible, meet essential daily needs or provide assistance to vulnerable people

“Whenever feasible, consider riding bicycles or walking: this provides physical distancing while helping to meet the minimum requirement for daily physical activity, which may be more difficult due to increased teleworking, and limited access to sport and other recreational activities’’.

The British government has advised that we all avoid unnecessary travel and social contact, closing restaurants, pubs and clubs, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop riding your bike.

Charity Cycling UK has issued guidance on cycling during coronavirus lockdown, which includes suggesting riders take as much food and water as possible for your ride, to help you avoid having to stop in a shop and make social contact.

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The charity said: “The Prime Minister’s announcement did not include a fixed time limit.

“Working out how long we can exercise for is also something of a balancing act, and we all need to strike that balance depending on the context.

“Cycling UK advice is to go out for long enough to keep yourself in good shape physically and emotionally but avoid doing more than this.

“Use common sense when planning your route.”

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.