Big cities—by nature—are inundated with gridlock, congestion, and a whole lot of waiting.
Whether you live a city built with public transportation like New York or a tangled mess of roads like in Los Angeles, the difficulty in moving hundreds of thousands of people to and from work each day is often a multi-billion-dollar venture.
It may not seem immediately apparent but choosing to travel via car or subway can have a significant impact on your health. For those already living in large and often unclean cities, any health benefits that can be gained by such a simple lifestyle change is worth noting.
Utilizing public transportation where applicable have unexpected benefits to your well-being—and we’ll be going over just four of the ways that can accomplish.
We already know that 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week is a crucial part of managing a healthy lifestyle. A morning commute that consists of buses, rails and crosswalks can help you get in your weekly minutes.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has studied the relationship between physical activity, health benefits, and public transportation—and has found that those extra few minutes of walking resulted in a sizable increase of activity across adults who had chosen a carless commute.
While this amount of exercise may seem inherent by the method of transportation, it helps to show that there is a scientific link between exercise and public transit. This can be especially useful for those who live in cities with excessive gridlock or sprawling road systems. You might consider searching online for the best rowing machines for home use. Rowing machines are great for low impact exercise, and are a great option for improving your exercise regimen.
In general—the less time you spend seated, the better for your body.
- Weight Loss, & Diabetes, and Vehicles
While exercise is sure to increase, studies have also shown weight loss and diabetes can be similarly mitigated by your choice to take the train. The American Heart Association (AHA) has corroborated Japanese study that’s shown incredible decreases in weight, diabetes, in blood pressure.
Compared to those who drive to work, public transportation commuters are 44% less likely to be overweight, 27% less likely to have high blood pressure, and 34% less likely to develop diabetes.
These differences aren’t marginal—and across the world, studies comparing urbanized cities with light and massive rail report less obesity than in the towns without such infrastructure.
Taking public transportation also allows you to explore the heart of your city—instead of traveling either above or below in thoroughfares and connectors. This added sense of interconnectivity could lead you to explore your area further—like discovering local parks or walking long distances to see restaurants and shops.
- Pollution & Emissions
For the environmentally conscious, taking public transportation can bring further benefits to the environment beyond a personal peace of mind.
Over in Australia, the Victoria Transport Policy Institute conducted a study on transportation in their country and found that their public transportation had aided in an increase of alternative fuel usage from 2% to 30.4% over a 17-year period.
When Australia turned to compare their initiatives to American findings, the results were less than pleasing.
The United States has been shown to have a profound connection between an increasingly sedentary lifestyle—which, in turn, increases heart attacks and strokes. The Australian study also found that the added pollution due to the increased number of vehicle owners and operators has a direct connection to cancer and congenital anomalies. Transport activity accounts for more than 60% of the total potential years of life lost due to the health risks.
To put it simply—an over-reliance on cars has resulted in a higher emission rate and higher obesity and heart disease rate when compared internationally. Of course, not all of this is avoidable—and there are many factors at play, including the size of a country and the social expectations of many of the citizens.
Still, there’s no arguing with the reality that those who drive cars when public transportation is an option are contributing to a growing problem with pollution and emissions. Similarly, public transport encourages renewable energies and improves overall health.
- Less Sick Time
Finally, a recent study conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) connects the previous benefits into an overall statistic on doctor’s visits.
The survey conducted the study found that Americans who do not visit the doctor’s office about 15% less often than those who do—even though public transportation increased the ability to see a doctor.
These non-drivers are also less likely to visit restaurants and shops (by about 59%), which can contribute back to the overall level of health problems associated with those who drive.
Again—this specific benefit may not be one that seems particularly shocking, but then again—the culmination of increased exercise, lower emissions exposure, as well as a decreased level of weight loss will all inherently result in less doctor’s visits.
America’s a massive country—and not every city or town has the infrastructure or resources required to get you from work to home without the usage of a car.
However, utilizing public transportation and integrating it into your lifestyle whenever possible can reward in more ways than simply the fare’s cost. If you are fortunate enough to live in a major city and find yourself interested in switching, finding ways to limit the need to use your car will alleviate much of the burden of losing that car.
Utilizing grocery delivery services will keep you from needing a trunk for your meals, and finding a prescription delivery service like Medly will keep you from seeking out a pharmacy every time your prescription medication runs low.
Keeping up with your health and exercise needs is up to you—but switching to public transportation will help you implement exercise without feeling as if you are losing time by working out. We encourage you to look up public transportation offerings in your town and try out the bus next time you head to work.
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