Can commuting take a toll on your health?
Grab your gym shoes and leave the car keys behind. People who walk to work are less likely to develop diabetes and high blood pressure, according to a new study.
Researchers at Imperial College London and University College London analyzed data from 20,000 U. K. residents to examine how health is affected by the way people travel to work.
They found that people who walk to work were 40 percent less likely than car commuters to have diabetes and 17 percent less likely to have high blood pressure. Cyclists were around half as likely to have diabetes as drivers.
Cycling, walking and using public transportation were also all linked to a lower risk of being overweight than driving or taking a taxi, according to the study. Nineteen percent of people who used private transportation – such as cars, motorbikes or taxis – to get to work were obese, compared to 15 percent of those who walked and 13 percent of those who cycled.
“This study highlights that building physical activity into the daily routine by walking, cycling or using public transport to get to work is good for personal health,” said study author Anthony Laverty, in a news release.
Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the findings revealed that modes of getting to work varied widely in different parts of the U.K. For example, 52 percent of people in London used public transit, compared with 5 percent in Northern Ireland, according to the study.
“The variations between regions suggests that infrastructure and investment in public transport, walking and cycling can play a large role in encouraging healthy lives, and that encouraging people out of the car can be good for them as well as the environment,” Laverty said.
If you’re not lucky enough to be within walking distance of work, there are still small changes you can make to stay healthy, says Kate Malcolm, fitness instructor and personal trainer at Advocate Condell Centre Club in Libertyville, Ill.
She offers five ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine:
- Park your car a reasonable distance from your workplace and walk the rest of the way
- Go for a brisk 15-20 minute walk during your lunch break
- Take the stairs when possible instead of an elevator
- Use the restroom on another floor rather than the one next to your office
- Get up frequently throughout the day to break up your sitting time
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