Is our youth cycling to health?: Results from the Dutch 2016 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth

Authors D.F. Ettema, Peter Barendse, Mark S. Tremblay, H.W. Smits, Tim Takken, G.C.W. Wendel-Vos, N.H.M.J. Schipper-van Veldhoven, D.H.H. van Kann, J. Lucassen, Karlijn Knitel, C. Veenhof, R. van den Dool, J. van der Net, T. Altenburg, E.M. Monninkhof, J. Faber, Janke F. Groot, Marcella Burghard, S. de Vries, M. Beijersbergen, H.C.G. Kemper, Iris van Oost
Publication date 2016
Research groups Lifestyle and Health
Type Report


The Netherlands is known globally for its widespread use of bicycles and some call it a “cycling nation”. Indeed, many Dutch inhabitants own a bike and cycle frequently. Numbers show that 84% of the Dutch inhabitants from age 4 years and older own a bike. Those owners have an average of 1.3 bikes per person. This results in 18 million bikes in the Netherlands and 13.5 million bike owners.6 The Dutch use their bike as a means of transportation, but also for sports and exercise. Bike-use fits well in an active lifestyle and it is highly plausible that cycling is responsible for a large part of the daily physical activity in Dutch youth. It is estimated that Dutch people have on average a 6 months longer life expectancy attributable to bicycle use.7 It seems that the nation itself is well shaped to cycle: no large mountains, only a few small hills, and an extensive layout of cycle paths and routes in every city and village. In many urban areas separate cycle paths are very common. Our results show that many Dutch children use the bike as their way of transportation. It was demonstrated that active transportation is responsible for a large part of schoolrelated physical activity in Dutch youth.8 80% of 12-17 year-old children cycled three or more days to or from school/work.9 This resulted in an ‘A’ for the indicator active transportation (walking is included in the grade as well). Active transport is associated with increased total physical activity among youth.10,11 Also evidence is reported for an association between active transport and a healthier body composition and healthier level of cardiorespiratory fitness among youth. Although Dutch children accumulate a lot of daily physical activity through cycling, it is not enough to meet the current national physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. Even though cycling is an important component to the amount of daily physical activity, Dutch youth are not cycling to health

On this publication contributed

  • Cindy Veenhof portret
    C. Veenhof
    • Professor
    • Research group: Innovation of Movement Care

Language English