To Stay Healthy, Biking May be Key

Palo Alto bicycle commuter

I’m basically preaching to the choir for my awesome readers who bike (and run and swim and do other myriad of outdoor fun activities), but in the spirit of sharing…

Biking, and other forms of “active” commuting (like walking), may help reduce weight gain than driving to work.

This seems like a “duh” finding but in a country where about a third of adults are obese or overweight, this information could be key could be added to other studies and just general observation for localities to create opportunities for adults (hell, and even kids) to participate in some kind of physical activity, or incorporating physical activity into their daily lifestyle routine.

Bicycle joy
Look how happy she looks!

So back to this study, published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

The Health Behavior News Service analysis found that accumulating physical activity through active transport may be a more realistic way to minimize weight gain, than adding exercise (going to the gym, etc.) to your weekly leisure-time routines.

The study surveyed over 800 adults, and found that those who drove to work gained more weight on average than those who didn’t commute by car.

What does this mean then? The researchers noted that creating more opportunities for people to bike or walk to work may be an important health initiative, and some cities seem to be doing just that. Of course, more can be done and rural places could, perhaps, get in on some kind of active transport design. The key thing is to get people moving, with their own strengths/power (and maybe a small assistance like an electric bike or something).

It’s not even just the physical health that would improve. Just imagine all the happy people.

I grew up overseas in a very transit-oriented society. I never had to rely on a car to take me anywhere if I didn’t want to. Then, I moved to a rural/very spread out area in Maryland where there was no public transit whatsoever. I had to get a car.

I HATED it.

Driving isn’t bad. But driving all the time can wear you down and I have noticed a decline in not only physical health, but mental health as well. It wasn’t until I finished my undergrad, moved to Silver Spring that things started looking better.

Public transit, albeit not quite reliable compared to what I grew up with, made things slightly better. I was walking more and just the exertion of going to the bus stop or train station was enough of a boost to get me feeling better.

Then I got a bike and well.. yeah. You know where this goes. (Though, I’m thinking about supplementing my riding with strength training/weight lifting at the gym…)

It’s important to have research and studies to look at the effects that biking and walking as a mode of transport can have on our overall health, but at the same time I’m left wondering why we actually need scientists to tell us that sitting in a car all the time isn’t all that great for you.

Images: Richard Masoner/Cyclelicious and Comrade Foot on Flickr.

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