Instead of going to the gym, downing diet pills, or getting gastric bypass to get thin and beautiful, why not just take mass transit? According to a recent report by USA Today, taking public transportation instead of driving is a proven way to lose weight and improve your overall health.
According to USA Today:
All the new research over the last five years indicates pretty clearly the health benefits of public transportation," says Jason Jordan, director of the Center for Transportation Excellence, a non-profit research and policy clearinghouse. "A lot of people are walking more if they have access to transit.
The article also cites research by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that might make commuters think twice before climbing in the car: for every additional 30 minutes a person spends in a car, they stand a 3% greater chance of obesity. Conversely, each kilometer walked per day reduces that risk by 4.8%.
Programs in L.A., Atlanta, Portland, and Arlington, Virginia are encouraging health-conscious commuters to dump their cars and take mass transit, instead.
From USA Today:
Lois Fletcher, 53, of Atlanta is a believer. She says she lost more than 30 pounds last year when she quit driving to work and started taking MARTA, the Atlanta transit system.
Fletcher tracked her progress through an Atlanta Clean Air Campaign program. She wore a pedometer and walked 4-5 miles a day, including to and from transit stops and up and down steps in MARTA stations.
"In my old office, the parking garage was right there," she says. "I could park 30 feet from my desk. I have diabetes and high blood pressure, and my doctor would say if you would just walk for 30 minutes, that would really help. But I could never find the time to do it. With three boys, when I got off work, the last thing I thought about was exercise."
It’s no surprise to us that taking public transit keeps you trim and healthy. New Yorkers, who rely almost exclusively on mass transit, are some of the thinnest urbanites in the nation (at least, by appearance). Commendably, they walk ten blocks to the subway station—often in kitten heels—without complaint.
Of course, commuters elsewhere don’t always have the luxury of such an expansive transit system.
According to Wendell Cox, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based think tank that advocates free-market principles:
"Transit does an incredible job of getting people to big employment centers downtown," he says. "But 80%-90% of jobs, on average, are not downtown and cannot be accessed by transit that is remotely competitive with the car."