A cycling-on-prescription scheme trialled in Yorkshire has been so successful it could be rolled out across the UK, the organisers said.
The scheme allows health professionals to offer those with long-term conditions 12 weeks of cycle training.
More than 1,000 people have been referred to the scheme since it launched four years ago, according to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.
Cycle UK said the scheme showed cycling was good for overall wellbeing.
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Jenny Box, Cycling UK’s head of development, said: “Cycling UK has always known cycling can help people with both their physical and mental wellbeing – and in West Yorkshire we’ve now got the evidence.
“We would love to be able to bring the gift of cycling to other parts of the country and help other people on to the path to recovery.”
The initiative is funded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which covers Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York.
Figures from 2018/2019 showed people using the scheme reporting a marked increase in feeling more confident and relaxed.
In the past year, 141 people have been referred by GP surgeries, hospitals, clinical commissioning groups and mental health charities.
At the start of the programme, only 18% of participants were meeting the NHS activity guidelines of 150 minutes per week – a figure that rose to 73% afterwards.
Andrea, 47, from Wakefield, was referred as she has suffered from anxiety.
“I’m more confident. I’m able to be out with other people more than I would normally,” she said.
“My fitness has improved, my lung function is a lot better than it has been and now I actually want to go out and do other things, and keep cycling, keep active and really start living my life.”
Dan, 31, from Featherstone, developed depression and anxiety after suffering a bereavement.
He said: “You might have a bad week and you’ve had this to look forward to, and you’d come here and you might feel a little bit low, feel a bit tired, a bit drained but you’d leave it feeling invigorated and energetic.”
Cycling UK said the scheme started in Yorkshire, and has since been trialled in areas including Wales, Manchester and London, but is not yet available nationwide.
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