Staying fit, keeping healthy, getting exercise and eating the right foods. All of these are common themes in today’s hyper health-conscious society.
In pursuit of better health, we dissect our diets, exercise habits, stress levels, and lately, our psychological health.
But among all the hubbub of today’s health-conscious society, it seems the health impact of one part of our lives has been completely underestimated.
So what is it? ... The daily commute.
That’s right. New research is revealing that people who use more ‘active’ modes of transport are much healthier than those who go by car. Basically, people who commute to work by foot, bike, bus or train are much healthier than those who drive in. How much healthier? You’ll be surprised.
A striking example is this Japanese study comparing bus/train commuters with those who drive to work. Compared to drivers, public transportation users were:
- 44 percent less likely to be overweight
- 27 percent less likely to have high blood pressure
- 34 percent less likely to have diabetes
These numbers are pretty hard to ignore. Why are they so extreme?
Well, so far the direct link between exactly why public transport users are so much healthier is unclear - but the research suggests that part of the reason is because public transport involves walking - and this walking replaces a sit-down drive that can be pretty unhealthy.
Indeed, one of the biggest differences between drivers and those who walk, bus or train is the “little” walk from home to station, and from station to workplace.
The reason we put “little” in quotes is because (get this!)...
Bus commuters can walk a distance equivalent to a marathon (26.2 miles) every fortnight.
New research from Macmillan Cancer Support in the UK has shown that bus commuters walk a distance equivalent to a marathon (26.2 miles) every fortnight by simply riding and walking their regular route to and from work.
That’s right, simply walking to the bus or train can replace a sedentary car commute with one marathon per fortnight.
So what would happen if we all walked to the bus?
Well, for starters we might all get almost half of the weekly recommended cardiovascular exercise - without breaking a sweat.
If you walk 12 minutes every weekday to get to your stop, that walk adds up to 40% of the weekly cardio we need, according to the World Health Organization.
In fact, Perth research has found that public transport commuters get an average of 30 minutes extra physical activity a day! That’s well over 40% of the recommended amount of cardio.
Luis Fernando Gomez, a professor with the School of Medicine at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, looked at the difference between bussing and driving:
“We have conducted several studies: people who use the car in Colombia are more likely to have abdominal obesity,” says Gomez. (That’s the medical term for having a pot belly.) “Sitting is very bad, it’s very bad.”
What can you do? Ways to Consider Public Transport
Better physical health. Better mental health. Plus (of course) the savings on petrol and parking. The benefits are clear, but it isn’t always easy to make the switch.
Employers - Offer SmartRiders to Staff:
SmartRiders are a really tangible way that workplaces can provide employees with an incentive to get to work by public transport.
Interested? We can help! Have a look at our tips for getting started with workplace SmartRiders:
Employees - More Reasons to Try It:
If you’re looking for a little boost personally to use public transport, we’ve got heaps more reasons to try it on our online portal at https://yourmove.org.au/.
And if you want to spread the word to your coworkers, here are a few tips: