The Journal of Improbable Research gives out the IgNobel Awards, but also publishes "Real research, about anything and everything, from everywhere. Research that's maybe good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless." A good candidate might be the vast study Active commuting and obesity in mid-life: cross-sectional, observational evidence from UK Biobank. It came up with a conclusion that seems pretty obvious and well documented; according to Richard Masoner of Cyclicious:
In the largest study of its kind, British researchers found adults who commute to work via cycling or walking have lower body fat percentage and body mass index (BMI) measures in mid-life compared to adults who commute via car, according to a new study in March 16 2016 issue of The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal.
The study actually looked at 150,000 people aged between 40 and 69 in the UK, and it turns out that bikes are best, with the average cycling man weighing 11 pounds less than the driver, and the average woman 9.7 pounds less.
“We found that, compared with commuting by car, public transport, walking and cycling or a mix of all three are associated with reductions in body mass and body fat percentage, even when accounting for demographic and socioeconomic factors,” said study author Dr Ellen Flint, Lecturer in Population Health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK. “Many people live too far from their workplace for walking or cycling to be feasible, but even the incidental physical activity involved in public transport can have an important effect.”
Ellen Flint has been in TreeHugger previously, with a study that looked at whether people who took transit were skinnier and found that indeed it was almost as good as cycling. That's probably because there is a lot of walking to get to the bus stop and a lot of stairs and tunnels in the subway system.
A key finding from this study is that the effects observed for public transport were very similar in size and significance to those for walking or cycling to work.
John Pulcher of Rutgers University has also made the point.
However, even though the study seems a bit redundant, it's the biggest yet and is yet more confirmation of the benefits to society and individuals of getting out of their cars and on to active transportation. As Richard Masoner notes, "Your daily drive to work not only slowly kills everyone around you, it slowly kills you as well."