Want to Reduce Body Fat? Take Public Transport, Walk, Cycle
Adults who commute to work via cycling or walking have lower body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI) measures in mid-life compared to adults who commute via car, according to a study in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal.
Even people who commute via public transport also showed reductions in BMI and percentage body fat compared with those who commuted only by car. This suggests that even the incidental physical activity involved in public transport journeys may be important.
The study looked at data from over 150000 individuals from the UK, the largest to date to analyze the health benefits of active transport.
The strongest associations were seen for adults who commuted via bicycle, compared to those who commute via car. For the average man in the sample (age 53 years) cycling to work rather than driving was associated with a weight difference of 11lbs. For the average woman in the sample (age 52 years) the weight difference was 9.7lbs.
After cycling, walking to work was associated with the greatest reduction in BMI and percentage body fat, compared to car-users.
Commuters who only used public transport also had lower BMI compared to car-users.
“We found that, compared with commuting by car, public transport, walking and cycling or a mix of all three are associated with reductions in body mass and body fat percentage, even when accounting for demographic and socioeconomic factors. Many people live too far from their workplace for walking or cycling to be feasible, but even the incidental physical activity involved in public transport can have an important effect,” said study author Dr Ellen Flint, Lecturer in Population Health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK.