Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Health and Commuting Study

Today's Washington Post reports on a study of health and commuting, Walking, biking to work linked with better fitness: "Walking or biking to work, even part way, is linked with fitness, but very few Americans do it, according to a study of more than 2,000 middle-aged city dwellers." Anyone who bikes to work knows about the fitness aspects of commuting; it's one of many reasons why we commute by bike. It's also fun, doesn't cost much, generates no air pollution, reduces congestion, is reliable (we know how long it takes to get somewhere; we rarely know what's in store for us when driving), and others. It's good to see research being done to verify the health benefits of bike commuting:
In what may be the first large U.S. study of health and commuting, the researchers found only about 17 percent of workers walked or bicycled any portion of their commute.

Those active commuters did better on treadmill tests of fitness, even when researchers accounted for their leisure-time physical activity levels, suggesting commuter choices do make a difference.

Crumbling sidewalks, lack of bike paths and sheer distances all keep American commuters in their cars, experts said.

"I would love to bike to work, but it is completely unsafe for me to do so," said Penny Gordon-Larsen of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who led the study in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine. "There's one real small, narrow area where there's no bike lane."

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