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GPs given option of prescribing free bike rental to boost patients' physical and mental health

Joe Robinson
18 Oct 2019

Two surgeries in Wales will be able to offer bike rental in bid to improve physical and mental health

Two GP surgeries in Wales will now be able to offer free bike rental to patients in a bid to increase the awareness exercise can play in mental and physical health.

The scheme will be introduced to the two practices in Cardiff - Lansdowne Surgery and Fairweather Health Centre - and allows those prescribed the ability to use the Nextbike bike-sharing system across the city for free for a six month period.

Bikes will be available at all times during the pilot system and are available from 60 stations across the city and can be used for 30 minutes with no limit on how many times a bike can be rented out.

The new incentive is aimed at breaking patients from the habit of always using a car to travel around Cardiff and, instead, opt for the bike. NHS Wales is also hoping there will be a positive impact on emissions, too.

Public health consultant Dr Tom Porter believes this new idea could have a massive impact on public health.

'It’s recommended that adults are active for at least 150 minutes every week, but many people feel that 150 minutes is simply too difficult to fit into their busy schedules,' Dr Porter explained. 'Cycling is not only fun but can also fit into your regular routine, going to work, visiting friends or nipping to the shops, so you don’t even notice you’re racking up the minutes.

'For the first phase of the pilot we want to make sure the scheme works as intended, and is easy to use for patients and their health professionals, so we’ll be seeking feedback from participants. If the approach proves successful we’ll look at making it more widely available across the city.

'Not only can cycling work to reduce your risk of death from heart disease by 52 percent, but it’s also a great way to get around the city without using your car, making it good for both you and the environment around you, and helping to keep the air clean for everyone while reducing carbon emissions.'

If successful, hopes are the incentive will be rolled out through further GP surgeries within the city of Cardiff and even to other cities, like London and Glasgow, which could massively benefit from similar schemes. Such schemes, however, also need worthwhile cycling infrastructure to work effectively.

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