Recent research announced at the American Heart Association’s Scientist Sessions meeting in Florida has confirmed what we have known for years. That those who commute to work by bus are often healthier than their colleagues who walk, drive, or cycle.
The project, led by Dr Hisako Tsuji of the Moriguchi City Health Examination Centre in Osaka, examined 6,000 Japanese commuters, conducting a wide variety of health checks. It found that public transport users are 44 per cent less likely to be obese, 27 per cent less likely to have high blood pressure and 34 per cent less likely to suffer from diabetes than those who drive cars to work, the least healthy workers in the study.
The findings seem to suggest that the walk to the bus stop plays a significant role in the health of commuters, while those who drive to work do not benefit from any such exercise in their commute. This has led Dr Tsuji to submit that “people should consider taking public transportation instead of a car, as a part of daily, regular exercise,” going so far as to say that healthcare providers should take in interest in how patients commute.
The health benefits of commuting by bus are clear. Back in 2014, Olympic gold medallist Anna Watkins joined us in promoting the role that buses can play in a healthy lifestyle. Greener Journeys research found that the daily walk to and from the bus stop and the destination can burn 22,630 calories a year. Even more impressively, daily bus users clock up the annual equivalent of 11 marathons!
The benefits of commuting via bus, however, extend beyond the health and environmental benefits. The actual commute, as Julian Borger notes in his article for the Guardian, can itself be a source of great joy. Travelling over ground allows us to enjoy breath-taking views, catch up with friends on the phone or simply enjoy the company of those around us.
With such clear and ranging benefits to bus travel, it was vital that funding for buses was protected in last week’s Spending Review.
We are delighted to see new research confirming that bus users are healthy and fit, and hope that even more people will be encouraged to take the bus and enjoy the short walks to and from the bus stops!