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Study: Transit commuters are slimmer than counterparts who drive

Have you ever wondered how your travel choices impact your health?

Several scholars from the UK recently published a study that targeted exactly that.

Their objective study looked at a cross-sectional pool from the UK Household Longitudinal Study and assessed whether active commuting was independently associated with biological markers of obesity.

The study produced several interesting findings and concluded that individuals who ride public transit, bike, or walk had “significantly lower BMI and percentage body fat” than their driving counterparts.

While this is certainly not the first study to suggest the negatives of car travel, it comes in response to a major vacuum of scholarly literature linking mode choice and body weight.

The findings were still statistically significant after the researchers accounted for lifestyle factors such as age, income, level of activity at work, and personal activity levels.

Passenger-carries-bike-on-RTD-train
RTD light rail passenger carries his bike onto the train

The study specifically found that men who used active transportation methods had approximately 1.5 percent less body fat and one less BMI point than men who drove. Additionally, women with an active commute had approximately 2 percent less body fat and .75 less BMI points than those who drove.

One interesting finding was that both male and female public transit commuters scored slightly lower than their counterparts who biked or walked to work.

While correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causality, these findings suggest that ditching your beloved car commute for a train, bus, or bike ride will not only save you money at the pump, but will also help save you from putting on unwanted bulk in your midsection.

We will always face a wide variety of commuting choices, but choosing an active commute mode that includes public transit, biking, or walking may help turn heads next time beach season rolls around.