physically inactive has been the leading cause of premature mortality and obesity.
- The negative health consequences of a sedentary
lifestyle are risk factors for type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and
certain types of cancer.
activity is associated with longevity, strengthening of muscles, bones and
improvement in mood.
every second in our life counts. A very simple switch from the way we commute
to work can help shed some weight and lengthen life!
The beneficial effects of a non-sedentary
lifestyle on obesity
and other related health issues are very well known.
However, in developing countries, the lifestyles of people have become more
sedentary and physical inactivity has become the fourth leading factor for
premature mortality risks. Declining rates of functional active commuting have
contributed to a population-level reduction in physical activity and there is
ecological evidence, which suggests that obesity levels have been rising with
greater decline in active modes of commuting.
‘Active commuting such as cycling, walking or using public transport to work for those in their midlife years, could be a significant part of the global policy response to prevent population-level obesity.’
to workplaces has been strongly recommended by the
United Kingdom's National Institute for Health & Care Excellence as a
feasible way of incorporating higher levels of non-sedentary lifestyle.
Relationship Between Active Commuting and Improved
A recent study conducted by the
researchers of the Department of Social and Environmental Health Research,
London has examined the relation between active commuting and obesity.
study has revealed how the way in which we travel to work significantly impacts
They collected cross-sectional
observational data from the UK Biobank involving individuals between the age of
40 and 69 years who had been visiting 22 different assessment centers across
the country from 2006 to 2010. The self-reported commuting method was
categorized into seven different options to reflect typical levels of physical
The outcomes that were measured
and percentage of
body fat. It was observed that active commuting was significantly associated
with low BMI and low body fat percentage among both genders.
Individuals who commuted by walking
or cycling had lower BMI
and fat percentage compared to those who traveled by car or public transport.
This finding promotes active travel as a population-level policy response to
prevent mid-life obesity.
Cycling- The Best Mode of Commuting to Work
Cycling provides adequate
cardiovascular stimulus and it reduces all-cause and cardiovascular mortality,
more frequently in older men and women.
Unsurprisingly, cycling was found to be the best and healthiest option
for commuting to work. It was revealed that on an average,
cyclists were 5 kg lighter than those who commuted by car and the difference in
their BMI was 1.71 kg/m2. Female participants who traveled by cycle
to work were found to be
4.4 kg lighter than women who drove cars to work with the difference in their
BMIs of 1.65 kg/m2
Advantage of Walking to Work
Walkers had better health than
those who drove their cars to work, with a difference in BMI of 0.98 kg/m2
men and 0.80 kg/m2
Little Activity Better Than None
They also reported that those who
to work by train or bus
lower BMIs than those who drove with the BMI difference of 0.70 kg/m2
Association Between Active Commuting and
Cardiovascular Disease Risk and Obesity
The researchers from the
Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina have found out the
relation between lifestyle exercises like active commuting to work with
obesity, fitness and cardiovascular disease risk
The study included 2364
participants who had enrolled for the coronary artery risk development in young
adults during 2005-2006. The association between active commuting such as
walking or cycling with body weight, BMI and fitness were separately assessed.
They observed that active commuting was positively associated with fitness in
both the genders whereas, it was inversely associated with BMI, obesity, blood
pressure, triglyceride levels and insulin levels
The study has suggested that
active commuting should be practiced for maintaining and improving health.
Due to its accessibility and
flexibility, walking has been generally reported as the most popular
leisure-time physical activity for adults. It has been particularly recommended
as a targeted activity to achieve national physical activity recommendations.
6o minutes of brisk walking per day is recommended for most adults in order to
avoid weight gain.
An alternative non-leisure
form of physical activity like active commuting (walking or cycling to work)
can be a potentially effective means of increasing physical activity. However,
the term "active commuting" should not be necessarily limited to walking and
cycling; it can also involve using public transport to reach transport hubs.
A very simple intervention
like this can potentially improve the health of people. By promoting and
facilitating active commuting, we can easily prevent obesity.
Flint E1, Cummins S2. Active commuting and obesity in mid-life: cross-sectional, observational evidence from UK Biobank. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2016
Mar 16. pii: S2213-8587(16)00053-X. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(16)00053-X.
Is active commuting the answer to population health? Sports Med. 2008;38(9):751-8.
J, Sidney S, Sternfeld B, Jacobs DR Jr, Lewis CE. Active commuting and cardiovascular disease risk: the
CARDIA study. Arch Intern Med. 2009
Jul 13;169(13):1216-23. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.163.
Flint E1, Cummins S2, Sacker A3.
Associations between active commuting, body fat, and body mass index: population
sectional study in the
United Kingdom. BMJ. 2014 Aug 19;349:g4887. doi: