Public transit may keep you fit: study

The Tyee

By Tom Barrett

University of British Columbia researchers have come up with another argument in favour of public transit – it may help keep you in shape.

Doctoral student Ugo Lachapelle and Associate Prof. Lawrence Frank of the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning found in a new study that transit riders were three times more likely than car drivers to meet minimum daily levels of physical activity.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends adults do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, five days a week.

Lachapelle and Frank looked at more than 4,000 travel surveys from metropolitan Atlanta, Ga., to compare how much walking transit riders and drivers did. Transit users were much more likely to meet the minimum levels of exercise because they walked between stops.

The study, published in The Journal of Public Health Policy, found that those who drove the most were the least likely to reach the minimum levels of exercise.

“The idea of needing to go to the gym to get your daily dose of exercise is a misperception,” Frank said in a UBC media release. “These short walks throughout our day are historically how we have gotten our activity. Unfortunately, we’ve engineered this activity out of our daily lives.”

Lachapelle said the research suggests that policy makers don’t need to rebuild communities or make major infrastructure investments to promote public health.

“There are things we can do in the interim, such as encourage people to drive less, and adapt their lifestyles, which will get people more physically active and generate fewer greenhouse gasses.”

Tom Barrett is a contributing editor at The Tyee.



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