My wife recently found an interesting study online about the relationship between using public transit and the reduction of obesity. I found this fascinating and wanted to share a bit of it with you. I will put a link at the end so you can read more of this study.
One tip I often give people to squeeze in a little exercise is to park farther from their destination and walk the extra distance, but the study recommends taking that even further. They are saying take transit to work or other destinations because of the extra walking involved.
The study indicates “active modes of transport” which means walking, biking, busing or any combination. Buses in our area have bike racks on the front, and bikes are allowed on our rapid transit system called Skytrain.
There are people, for example, who ride their bike to the bus loop, take transit and bike from the other end to work.
One very interesting aspect is that found those who bike, walk or use transit to commute are 2 times more likely to walk more than 30 minutes per day. That makes sense. When you take transit, you usually have to walk some distance to and from the bus. When you don’t take the car you have to walk to do other small errands as well. We are told we should try to average 10,000 steps a day and this would certainly help us get closer to that mark.
It is very easy to get lazy when it comes to commuting. We often think it is just quicker and easier to jump in the car even for little trips to the corner store. A lot of studies have been coming out about the ills effects of too much sitting has on our health. Some have even called sitting the new smoking. A lot of us sit at our jobs, then we get home and sit in front of the TV or computer. My experience has been it is very difficult to sit and walk at the same time, so walking cuts back on my sitting time.
Commuting aside, do you get in enough walking? There was a time when people walked in their neighbourhoods in the evening. You might stop and chat with a neighbour as they worked in their garden or say hi to others as they walked their dog.
When was the last time you went for a walk in your neighbourhood? I have to admit that sometimes one of my problems is that I don’t like going for a walk just for the sake of going for a walk. I feel like I should have a destination like a place to buy a cup of tea or a bookstore or some specific place. I just needed to change my thinking. My destination became arriving back home where I would make myself a nice cup of tea.
I am fortunate to live in a neighbourhood that still has a lot of heritage or character homes. We haven’t been completely turned into a cookie cutter neighbourhood as has happened in so many areas. I enjoy walking in the nbeighbourhood just to take time to really see these wonderful old homes. If I just hopped in the car every time I went out, I would miss these wonderful bits of history.
Another aspect they found that I found really interesting is that they were basically saying the more time we spend in our cars, the less we feel connected to our own neighbourhood. The study done by http://www.myhealthmycommunity.org found that “Those with a commute of 50+ minutes are 56% less likely to experience a strong sense of community belonging compared to those with a commute time of less than 10 minutes.”
Think about that for a second. You live in the suburbs, and you commute to work by car. You spend more time by yourself in the car and working away from your community than you do IN that community. I had never thought of that before – that feeling of belonging to your community being lessened by long commutes.
It seems that there are not only the physical benefits of walking as part of our commute but psychological as well. This could be said of walking in general. A lot of people ask me how do they get started with exercise if they haven’t done any in a long time and I always say start with walking.
I have to say this up front. I am not dispensing medical advise and as always, before you begin any exercise program, you should consult with you doctor.
That being said, if you are really out of shape or haven’t exercised in a long time, start slow. Maybe just around your block or even to the end of the driveway and back. Take your time and enjoy the walk. As the old saying goes, take time to smell the roses.
There are a lot of other health benefits to walking. One of the best ones compared to other exercises is that it is free, and that there is nothing special to learn. You probably already own the equipment and if not, go buy yourself some walking shoes.
If you want to more about the walking and commuting study, go to https://www.myhealthmycommunity.org/Results.aspx. Remember that this study was done for Metro Vancouver BC but I am sure similar result apply to your area.
So get your walking shoes on and head out the door!
Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!