Health benefits of cycling and walking to school

Big Pedal – the national event held each year by the cycling and walking charity Sustrans – runs from March 25 to April 5 in 2019. It’s the UK’s largest inter-school cycling, walking and scooting challenge that aims to inspire children, teachers and parents to get to school under their own steam.

The challenge pits schools against each other to see which can get the most pupils, staff and parents cycling, walking or scooting to school. There are loads of prizes up for grabs, including scooters, bikes and parking racks for the two winning primary schools. Find out more as well as how to register at

Cycling and walking to school has lots of health benefits too. Swapping short, local car journeys for cycling or walking – such as to school and back – can help you build exercise into your day, which in turn could help you achieve the weekly 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity recommended by the government (five 30-minute bike rides or brisk walks a week is ideal).


Here are some other health benefits of cycling or walking to school instead of driving or taking the bus:

Being active keeps your weight in check   According to Sustrans, there are several reasons why cycling can help you maintain a healthy weight:

  • Cycling raises your metabolic rate, which can help to keep your weight at a healthy level.
  • Moderate cycling burns up to 500 calories per hour – which is more than walking or swimming.
  • A 20-minute bike ride to school or work uses around the same amount of calories as a cappuccino or a bar of chocolate.

Being active helps prevent illness   Physical activity has been shown to reduce your risk of several serious health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease (according to the Chief Medical Officer, says Sustrans, inactive and unfit people have almost double the risk of heart disease than those who are more active and fit)
  • Asthma (walking or cycling instead of driving can help reduce traffic pollution, which Sustrans claims has been shown to be strongly linked to asthma)
  • Diabetes (Diabetes UK suggests physically active people have up to 50 per cent less chance of developing type 2 diabetes compared with inactive people)
  • Cancer (physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of 13 types of cancer, says Cancer Research UK, because it can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight)


Being active boosts your mental wellbeing   According to Sustrans, studies have shown that physical activity can be used to overcome and even prevent depression and anxiety, and may often be as effective as medication and counselling.

For more information about the many other benefits of walking and cycling, visit

If you need more advice on achieving your 150 minutes of weekly activity or if you need help and support with maintaining a healthy weight, have a chat with your local Careway pharmacist.

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.