3 surprising health benefits linked to public transportation

Public transportation health benefits
CC BY 2.0 Subway (1934) oil on canvas by Lily Furedi. (Photo: Cliff/flickr)

A new study finds that a bus ride a day may keep the doctor away.

There are many reasons to toot the horn for public transportation, now Japanese researchers have a few more to add. According to a study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2015, riding the bus or train to work is associated with significant improvements in health.

The research included almost 6,000 adults in Osaka, Japan and compared bus/train commuters, walkers/bikers and drivers. The researchers adjusted for factors like age, gender, smoking, and others. Compared to those who drove themselves to work, people who took the bus or train were:

• 44 percent less likely to be overweight
• 27 percent less likely to have high blood pressure
• 34 percent less likely to have diabetes

One surprising nugget from the study was that the bus and train commuters had even lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and overweight than the walkers or bikers. Which doesn’t make sense, until the researchers note that this could be because these commuters actually walked farther back and forth from the train or bus stop than walkers or bikers traveled to and from work.

"If it takes longer than 20 minutes one-way to commute by walking or cycling, many people seem to take public transportation or a car in urban areas of Japan," said lead study author Hisako Tsuji, M.D., director of the Moriguchi City Health Examination Center in Osaka, Japan.

"People should consider taking public transportation instead of a car, as a part of daily, regular exercise," Tsuji said.

While the study is somewhat limited in that it’s impossible to know whether or not public transit users were already healthier than drivers, it’s nonetheless easy to see how the increased activity of taking the bus or train would lead to positive health outcomes. Not to mention gaining the chance to engage more actively with one’s community and the outdoors. Even in an urban setting, a little sunshine and even some rain and snow can do the spirit a load of good.

And there's so much more: 10 reasons you should use public tranport

3 surprising health benefits linked to public transportation
A new study finds that a bus ride a day may keep the doctor away.

Related Content on Treehugger.com