If you want to shake off the obesity from your body, start walking or cycling, says the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), which concluded a statistical study that suggests that increased activity in the form of walking or cycling over two years would proportionally reduce the Body Mass Index (BMI).
Adding to the plethora of health research literature that regular physical activity helps improve one’s well-being, the latest finding underscores the potential positive effects that walking and cycling have on one’s average weight. Lead Researcher Mr Adam Martin said: “It is well-established that being overweight or obese is linked to a wide range of diseases, most notably Type-2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke. This study highlights the potential to contribute to reducing the average weight of the population by helping commuters build regular physical activity into their daily routines through walking, cycling and using public transport on their journey to work.”
A part of the British Household Panel Survey, the three-year research involved more than 4000 adults, who reported their usual mode of shuttling between their homes and workplaces, their height and weight. The information was collected from the respondents each year between 2004 and 2007. Computer-modelling statistical techniques were then applied to identify the relationship between the mode of transport used and the respondent’s weight.
Quite expectedly, the longitudinal study supports the long-established understanding there is a close link between the mode of commuting and weight. Mr Martin said: “We found that switching from the car to walking, cycling or public transport is associated with an average reduction of 0.32 BMI units, which equates to a difference of about 1 kilogram 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. For those with a commute of more than 30 minutes, there was an average reduction of 2.25 BMI units, or around 7 kilogram for the average person.”
Conversely, those who switched to using a car to commute to work at some point during the three-year survey period were found to have an average increase of 0.34 BMI units.
Noting that the finding is not a conclusive study on the effects of obesity if walking or cycling is chosen over car, Mr Martin clarified that the finding allows the research team to “compare changes in weight over time between commuters who had, and had not, changed how they travelled to work.” He added, “Combined with other potential health, economic, and environmental benefits associated with walking, cycling and public transport, these findings add to the case for interventions to support a larger proportion of commuters taking up these more sustainable forms of transport.”