More than 1,000 people in West Yorkshire have taken part in a ‘ground-breaking’ referral scheme, where cycling is prescribed in a bid to improve mental health.
The Cycle for Health scheme, launched in 2015, provides people with long-term conditions a 12-week programme of cycle skills training.
The scheme is delivered by the national cycling charity, Cycling UK, in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s CityConnect programme, which encourages more people to travel by bike and on foot.
In the last year, 141 people were referred to the scheme by GP surgeries, hospitals, clinical commissioning groups and mental health charities – leading to ‘considerable improvements in mental wellbeing’.
Participants reported a 32% increase in confidence, a 29% increase in feeling close to others and a 26% increase in feeling relaxed.
Tom Murray, Cycling UK senior project officer, said: “The feedback from people who’ve been on the scheme is overwhelmingly positive, and over the course of 12 weeks we can see huge improvements in both their physical and mental health.
“It doesn’t matter if they could ride a bike before they came to us, our programme teaches them all sorts of skills from learning to ride through to going out in groups, using hand signals, checking for traffic and road positioning.
“And the confidence that gives them is very often life changing.”