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Author Topic: The Neglected Benefits of the Commute  (Read 1259 times)

Offline Lungfish

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The Neglected Benefits of the Commute
« on: August 08, 2018, 10:28:54 PM »

But a series of studies published during the last couple of years suggest that commuting does have its upsides – particularly if you are taking public transport.

A few moments thinking about the day in front of you can therefore ease the change of gears, reducing the stress once you arrive in the office, he says. “The time period between leaving home and arriving at work is really a wonderful opportunity that people could use to transition between the two roles.”

A study of Taiwanese commuters, for instance, found that people who used public transport were about 15% less likely to be overweight compared to those who travelled to work in the car. Crucially, the relationship holds even when you account for other potential factors like socioeconomic status that might also influence fitness.

OK, a bus or train journey doesn’t carry the same physical demands as a Zumba class. But it typically does require a stroll to and from your station or bus stop, and the Taiwanese study suggested that these short bursts of activity can add up to a meaningful difference in fitness.

To find out more, Richard Patterson at Imperial College London analysed detailed data from the English National Travel Survey, allowing him to determine exactly how much exercise the average commuter gleans from their daily journey. He found that roughly a third of public transport commuters met the government’s recommendations of 30-minutes exercise a day, through their commute alone.

Patterson points out that governments could consider these benefits when they decide their funding for transport networks, since encouraging people to give up their cars and take a train or bus could end up having a real effect on public health. In the UK, for instance, he calculates that a 10% increase in the use of public transport could result in 1.2 million more people reaching the recommended levels of physical activity. “Some decisions, which may not seem to have much to do with health, can have these knock-on effects for people’s wellbeing,” he says.

Recognising and reappraising the commute’s benefits, so that they no longer feel like ‘wasted’ hours, could therefore have a real effect on your overall experience so that it no longer casts such a shadow over your day.

Personally I find the time used to commute is valuably put to use. I gain fitness benefits from the short walks I have at either end of my commute and use the time on the bus to read the news, read a book, catch up on personal email and read the RailBOT forum.


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“You can't understand a city without using its public transportation system.” -- Erol Ozan