Monday, September 21, 2009

Going to the Park? Walk or Bike!

Just in case you need a little nudge to ride your bike to work or walk to get groceries here's further evidence that "active" transit (i.e. walking or biking to get somewhere) is associated with better health. In the latest American Journal of Preventive Medicine one year of data was taken from a 20-year follow-up study to assess whether walking or cycling compared to only using a car to get around was associated with Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference, and fitness.

BMI and waist circumference are measures of overweight and obesity. The study authors also examined whether active transit was related to risk factors for cardiovascular disease (e.g. cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking status, and diabetes).

So, is active transit related to these things? Of course!

People who walked to places like parks, grocery stores, public transit, and restaurants had lower BMI, smaller waist circumferences, and higher fitness levels. Those who biked to get places also had significantly lower risk for cardiovascular disease.

Depending on where you live and how spread out these things are in your neighborhood makes active transit a huge challenge. For example, when I lived in Pennsylvania I would not have walked or biked to any of these places! Now that I live in the city, there is a park right down the street, grocery stores within a mile, and a T stop just a few blocks away. Still, I don't expect to see any major changes just by walking across the street to the biking to school, that might be another story!

What do you think about the health benefits of active transit?

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