Scope for the use of HEAT Cycling

Please read these explanations carefully to make sure HEAT is applicable to your case.

1) HEAT is to be applied for assessments on a population level, i.e. in groups of people, not in individuals.

2) This tool is designed for habitual behaviour, such as cycling for commuting, or regular leisure time activities.
Do not use it for the evaluation of one-day events or competitions (such as cycling days etc.), since they are unlikely to reflect long-term average activity behaviour.
HEAT is meant to be applied for an average cycling speed of about 14km/h (see also box for more information).

3) HEAT is designed for adult populations (aged approximately 20-64 years).
This is the age range for which the used relative risk estimate is applicable (see box “more information on the relative risk estimate used”). Information on the relative risk in younger or older populations is insufficient for inclusion. If the age distribution in the assessed population is significantly different (much younger, much older) HEAT may over or under estimate the resulting benefits. In such cases, it is important to adjust the mortality rate which depends strongly on the age of the assessed population. However, HEAT should not be applied to populations of children, very young adults, or older people, since the relative risk used by HEAT does not include these age groups.

4) Studies on the benefits of physical activity for decreasing premature mortality have typically been conducted in the general population where very high average levels of physical activity are uncommon.
Thus, the exact shape of the dose-response curve is uncertain but seems to level off above physical activity levels that are the equivalent of perhaps 1 hour of cycling per day. Therefore, the tool may not be suited for populations with very high average levels of cycling (i.e. about 1.5 hours per day or more, e.g. bicycle couriers) which go beyond activity levels common in an average adult population.

5) Knowledge of the health effects of cycling is evolving rapidly. These projects represent first important steps towards an agreed harmonized methodology. In developing these tools, on several occasions the advisory group made expert judgements based on the best available information and evidence. Therefore, the accuracy of results of the HEAT calculations should be understood as estimates of the order of magnitude, much like many other economic assessments of health effects. Further improvements will be made as new knowledge becomes available.

HEAT is composed of 16 questions in total; depending on the route you take, some questions will be skipped.

If you have comments on the HEAT please email to

  1. The Compendium of Physical Activities Tracking Guide (by Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, Meckes N, Bassett Jr DR, Tudor-Locke C, Greer JL, Vezina J, Whitt-Glover MC, Leon AS. ). Healthy Lifestyles Research Center, College of Nursing & Health Innovation, Arizona State University. Retrieved March 2011 from the World Wide Web.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Be Active, Healthy, and Happy! Appendix 1. Washington: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2008.
  • More information

  • More information on the relative risk estimate used in HEAT for cycling


  • More information on how the HEAT uses the relative risk estimates to value walking and cycling


  • More information on cycling speed used


  • What data do I need?

    Before you begin, check that you have the data you need to produce an assessment.