Date:

Academics from Heriot-Watt University are due to help with a nationwide scheme to get older people on their bikes.

Following a successful trial in Falkirk, the bike initiative will now be rolled out across Scotland, encouraging older people to stay active, socialise and feel an integral part of their wider community.

The Scottish Government is committing £300,000 to set up Cycling Without Age (CWA) Scotland who will encourage volunteers to take older people for bike rides using specially designed ‘trishaws', and give them all the necessary support to help make it happen.

Psychologists from the university have been evaluating the trial and will continue to work with the team looking at the mental, physical, health and wellbeing benefits. The work will also look into effects on mood, anxiety, social engagement, loneliness and isolation.

Dr Alan Gow, Associate Professor in Psychology will be working with the team to explore the potential benefits, he said: “This is a really worthwhile project to be involved in, helping those older people who are often more socially isolated get out and about.

“From the trial in Falkirk, we’re asking about the experiences of people who have participated in the scheme, from the care home residents and the volunteers too, including how it might benefit their mood or wellbeing.

“Following the trial, it will be fascinating to look at how it could have a positive difference to many lives.”

The scheme has already been implemented in five more local authority areas, and partnerships for further projects agreed in others.

Public Health and Sport Minister Aileen Campbell announced the funding. Ms Campbell said: "Through this funding, Cycling Without Age Scotland will work with communities and partners to roll the project out across Scotland in the areas and settings where it will have the most impact.

“We know that physical activity and regular social interaction have huge benefits for both mental and physical well-being and help people in Scotland live longer, healthier lives."