What are the health benefits of walking and cycling?

Active transportation is choosing to walk or cycle as your day-to-day way of getting from one place to the other. Your health will benefit greatly from active transportation.

Why choose Active Transportation?

Many Ontarians do not meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity. Often, they think it is difficult to make time to exercise. When you choose to walk or cycle to get from place to place in your daily life, you get the health benefits of staying physically active and you may meet the recommended guideline for physical activity.

Walking

You can improve your health with 30 minutes of quick walking every day. Walking can help you feel better physically and mentally. You can take a leisure walk with family and friends after a meal. Parks are great places for these types of walks.

If you normally take public transit, you can fit walking into your schedule by getting off one stop before your destination. If you drive, you could choose to park some distance away so that you can walk the rest of the way.

If you plan to walk in the winter when it's snowing, it's a good idea to find out whether the snow has been cleared from your intended path before you head out. You can do this by checking your municipality's website.

Make sure you choose comfortable walking shoes, and stretch to warm up and cool down your muscles. Remember to drink small amounts of water to stay hydrated while you exercise. If you have not been active for a while, ask your doctor to recommend a good level to start at.

Cycling

According to York Region Health Connection, cycling is a great exercise because:

  • Cycling at a leisure pace makes you burn calories at the same rate as very quick walking.
  • Just three hours of cycling per week may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by half.
  • Experts believe that after just a few weeks of regular cycling, you will be healthier and enjoy a greater sense of well-being.

You can turn this great exercise into an even better one by carrying a load on your bicycle either in a basket or on a trailer, as you will use more energy to move on your bike.

Choosing cycling as a means of active transportation requires a bit more preparation. You must learn about the rules of the road and learn how to ride safely. You will find it easier to cycle daily to and from work or school if you prepare for your rides ahead of time.

For More Information

  • Active and Safe Routes to School - A movement that promotes children's active school travel in Canada. Learn how you, your kids and your kid's school can support this program. From the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
  • Healthy Choices - Information on healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle. From the Province of Ontario.
Last updated: November 13, 2015 4001577