Epidemiology of cycling for exercise, recreation or sport in Australia and its contribution to health-enhancing physical activity

Sylvia Titze, Dafna Merom, Chris Rissel, Adrian Bauman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To provide population estimates and explore trends for recreational cycling by subgroups, and to understand the contribution of recreational cycling to meeting the physical activity guidelines among Australian adults. Design: Repeated cross sectional population surveys. Methods: Data from the Exercise, Recreational and Sport Survey (ERASS) for the years 2001-2009 were used. Approximately 13,000 Australian adults (≥15 years) were interviewed each year across all seasons. Data include frequency of cycling during the previous 12 months and average duration of a cycling session, asked since 2005. Three thresholds for meeting the physical activity guidelines were considered using the separate categories: achieving >150. min, >300. min, and 5 sessions of 30. min cycling per week. Results: The pooled prevalence of recreational cycling was 10%. Employed middle-aged men with tertiary education reported the highest prevalence of recreational cycling. An increase in cycling was observed over time, mainly attributed to an increase in "irregular" cycling (<1/week). Among all cyclists a third met the physical activity guidelines of 150. min/week, and less than 20% met the guidelines of 300. min/week or 5 sessions of 30. min/week, respectively. Although a small group, almost two thirds of those participating in organised or partly organised recreational cycling met the guidelines. Conclusions: Recreational cycling is a plausible way to accumulate sufficient health-enhancing physical activity. The majority of recreational cyclists do not cycle in organised rides. Targeted efforts are needed to exploit the full potential of recreational cycling for public health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-490
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Bicycling
  • Health
  • Recreation
  • Sex and age distribution
  • Trend


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