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Walking and Bike Riding to Work have Big Benefits

The large study which included 2,364 men and women, gathered data about their commute to work during 2005 and 2006, and the percentage of the commute completed by car, public transportation, walking, or biking.  Not surprisingly, participants who walked or biked to work were more fit, were less likely to be overweight, and had better blood pressure and insulin levels. That means they have fewer risk factors for heart disease.

Unfortunately, only 16.7 percent of the study participants commuted actively to work. In addition to reinforcing the body of knowledge about the health benefits of regular exercise, the researchers hope to encourage public policies that support active commuting and positive attitudes towards walking and biking. Many people say that they would be more likely to walk or bike to work if their cities and towns built walking and biking paths and provided safe storage places for bicycles. Workplaces can also contribute by promoting active commuting, providing bike storage locations and even shower facilities to encourage their employees to be active.

“Furthermore,” writes Penny Gordon-Larsen of the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues, “increasing active commuting will have the dual benefits of increasing population health and in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental supports for commuting, such as physical environment and sociocultural factors, have been shown to promote active forms of commuting."

 

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