Car commuting contributes to weight gain, research to be presented at Australia’s paramount sports medicine, sports science, sports injury prevention and physical activity promotion conference, beactive2012 will show (October 31- November 3, Sydney).
Takemi Sugiyama of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute has found that over a four year period, those who did not use cars for commuting tended to gain less weight than those who used cars daily for commuting. He has also found that long-term weight maintenance may be possible through combining not using cars for commuting and being physically active during leisure time.
“Our study has shown that not using cars for commuting may be protective against weight gain. This highlights the need for promoting active commuting through public health, urban planning, and transportation initiatives,” said Mr Sugiyama.
Overcoming sedentary transportation modes which have been shown to have negative health and environmental consequences will be a focus of the be active 2012 conference, with numerous presentations looking at how to increase active travel (including public transportation as users are walking to stations or to/from stops) and our current limitations within the built environment and through accessibility.
Shannon Sahlqvist from Deakin University Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research said her research has found that an increase in active travel is associated with an increase in overall physical activity.
“There is increasing evidence that active travel reduces the risk of cardiovascular mortality and its risk factors.
“Physical activity levels were 123 minutes a week lower among those whose active travel decreased and 137 minutes a week higher among those whose active travel had increased,” said Dr Sahlqvist.
Jordan Carlson from the University of California San Diego says the built environment certainly plays a factor in people choosing active transport over car transportation.
“Areas where residential and commercial locations occur are associated with more active transportation. The built environment surrounding the worksite also appears to play a larger role in active transportation to work, as compared to the home built environment,” said Mr Carlson.
“This is important to understand when modifying built environment attributes to increase physical activity, and attention should be paid to the areas around destinations and worksites in addition to areas around the home.
“Transforming built environments to increase connectivity shows promise in promoting active transportation,” said Mr Carlson.
Sune Djurhuus from the Research Centre for Prevention and Health in The Capital Region of Denmark and Aalborg University, says another factor encountered with increased active transportation is accessibility.
“Daily active commuting to work is important for reaching recommended levels of daily physical activity. Public transportation users are walking and cycling to stations or stops and between intermediary destinations. Availability of public transport is therefore a determinant of active transportation,” said Mr Djurhuus.
“In Copenhagen it has been found that individuals living in areas with high availability of public transit have significantly higher odds of being active commuters. You are more likely to be an active commuter if you are in an area of high active commuting.
“The relationship between individual commuting and availability of transit service can be used to support both planning of transport services and improve policy incentives for a more physically active lifestyle,” said Mr Djurhuus.
Through the adoption of active transportation, better health amongst commuters will certainly be achieved.
beactive 2012 will showcase current research in the area of active transportation amongst adults and children and will provide strong evidence-based advocacy for the investment in this area.
Sports Medicine Australia