We already knew that public transit was good for the planet, but here's an added bonus: A recent study from the University of British Columbia has found that taking public transit is also good for your health. Public transit riders were found to be four times more likely to meet the Surgeon General's recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise each day, in part because they walk to and from transit. This news comes hot on the heels of an inciting report linking obesity and climate change.
Among the findings:
- The more trips you take on public transit, the more likely you are to meet the Surgeon General's requirements - but the more trips you take by car, the inverse is true.
- Transit users in all income groups walk more, but transit users of the highest income group reported the most walking.
- Those with employer-provided transit passes were more likely to meet the minimum. Just having access to a pass had a positive correlation with health.
Transit passes, concluded the researchers, may be a big part of the solution:
Along with land use policies and transportation infrastructure, we found that transportation incentives supporting transit use may offer a synergistic means of improving population health through active lifestyles. Changing land use is difficult and will likely not be enough. Making transit incentives more broadly available may increase the proportion of people meeting the physical activity recommendation. Such benefits will likely be appealing to policy makers because they can be achieved within shorter time frames than the longer-term structural changes required to influence travel behavior through the built environment.
But here's the bad news. Transit funding is being cut back in many cities, due to the economic crisis. Find out if your city is affected here.