Patients To Be Prescribed Bikes On The NHS To Fight Heart Disease
NHS doctors will be able to prescribe membership of bike schemes, as part of an effort to get more people fit and active.
It is hoped the initiative will help reduce the risk of people developing heart disease.
According to a recent study, cycling regularly can cut the chances of developing heart disease by as much as 46 percent, while it can reduce cancer risks by 45 percent.
It was also found that even a small amount of cycling can cut the risk of both heart disease and cancer by 36 percent and 32 percent, respectively.
The idea is being tested out by GPs in Cardiff, Wales, using the city's Nextbike bicycle-share scheme as part of a prescription.
It will enable doctors at Lansdowne Surgery and Fairwater Health Centre to offer patients 30-minute hire sessions for six months, free of charge.
According to research, the UK is lagging behind other European countries in terms of how much exercise people do.
For example, just 3 percent of commuters cycle to work, while 11 percent walk, one of the lowest rates in Europe. However, 43 percent of workers in the Netherlands and 30 percent of Danes cycle daily.
The project is being funded for a trial period by bike-sharing company, Nextbike, and if it proves to be a success, will be rolled out to other surgeries across the city.
Speaking about the importance of introducing regular exercise into patients' daily lives, Dr Tom Porter, consultant with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Public Health Wales, said: "It is recommended that adults are active for at least 150 minutes every week, but many people feel that 150 minutes is simply too difficult to fit into their busy schedules.
"Not only can cycling to work reduce your risk of death from heart disease by 52 percent, but it's also a great way to get around the city without using your car, making it good for both you and the environment around you, and helping to keep the air clean for everyone while reducing carbon emissions."
Dr Karen Pardy is one of the GPs who will be testing out the new scheme with her patients.
She said:"Nextbike on prescription provides GPs and their teams with a valuable opportunity to help encourage patients to become more active. While we are aware of the many benefits of exercise for our patients, people are sometimes reluctant to engage.
"Nextbike on prescription allows people to have a go at cycling around Cardiff and realise how this can help to support their overall well-being."
Featured Image Credit: Nextbike