Public Transport Can Help Weight Loss

Public Transport Can Help Weight LossPublic Transport Can Help Weight Loss

Switching to public transport for the journey to work instead of driving a car from home may help with weight loss, suggests a study that found a drop in body mass index for those people who did just that.

They got on the bus/coach, train or metro, and giving up a private car in the study also included switchers to walking or cycling for the full commute, reports medicalnewstoday.

It is within a couple of years that switching can help commuters shed weight, say the researchers publishing their work online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Leading the study was Adam Martin, health economist at the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School in the UK, who quantifies the potential benefit suggested by the results:

“We found that switching from the car to walking, cycling or public transport is associated with an average reduction of 0.32 body mass index (BMI), which equates to a difference of about 1 kg for the average person.

“This might sound like a relatively small proportion of their total weight, but we also found that the longer the commute, the stronger the association,” said Martin, concluding:

“For those with a commute of more than 30 minutes, there was an average reduction of 2.25 BMI units, or around 7 kg for the average person.”

As well as from the University of East Anglia, contributors in the research team came from the University of Cambridge and the University of York.

They reached their findings through an analysis of responses from over 4,000 adults in a survey conducted in three annual waves between 2004 and 2007.


“The key feature of this study is that we were able to compare changes in weight over time between commuters who had, and had not, changed how they traveled to work,” Martin says.

“If large numbers of people could be enabled to take up active travel to work, for example through environmental and policy interventions in the transport and planning sectors, the benefits for population health may be larger than those of alternative interventions targeted at producing larger individual health benefits for relatively small numbers of people.”

The benefits of regular exercise are wider than the question of effect against obesity - the American Heart Association recommends we all do a certain minimum level of physical activity for heart health.

The AHA has produced a physical activity graphic representing the options for overall cardiovascular health, which include the option to simply walk for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. April saw the latest annual “walk to work day” in San Francisco. It was organized by champions of walking, Walk SF.