Cy­cling is health­i­est trans­port for city dwellers

This ap­proach al­lowed us to an­a­lyse the ef­fects more re­al­is­ti­cally, since to­day’s city dwellers tend to use more than one mode of trans­port.

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page -

IF YOU walk to work in an ef­fort to get more ex­er­cise, you might con­sider switch­ing to cy­cling. A new Euro­pean study found that bik­ing is the best ur­ban mode of trans­port for boost­ing health. Led by the Barcelona In­sti­tute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a cen­tre sup­ported by the “la Caixa” Bank­ing Foun­da­tion, the new study gath­ered data taken from the Phys­i­cal Ac­tiv­ity through Sus­tain­able Trans­port Ap­proaches (PASTA) lon­gi­tu­di­nal study, con­ducted over a pe­riod of two years in seven Euro­pean cities.

The re­searchers sur­veyed 8,802 par­tic­i­pants in An­twerp, Barcelona, Lon­don, Öre­bro, Rome, Vi­enna and Zurich, with 3,567 an­swer­ing the final ques­tion­naire. Ques­tions in­cluded what trans­port modes par­tic­i­pants used, in­clud­ing car, mo­tor­bike, pub­lic trans­port, bi­cy­cle, electric bi­cy­cle, and walk­ing, how of­ten they used them, and how they per­ceived their gen­eral health. The re­searchers also asked par­tic­i­pants about their so­cial re­la­tions, var­i­ous as­pects of men­tal health, and their level of vi­tal­ity, in­clud­ing energy level and fa­tigue.

The re­sults showed that cy­cling was the mode of trans­port as­so­ci­ated with the great­est health ben­e­fits in ev­ery analysis, in­clud­ing bet­ter self-per­ceived gen­eral health, bet­ter men­tal health, greater vi­tal­ity, lower self-per­ceived stress, and fewer feel­ings of lone­li­ness. Walk­ing was the sec­ond most ben­e­fi­cial trans­port mode, as­so­ci­ated with good self-per­ceived gen­eral health, greater vi­tal­ity, and more con­tact with friends and/or fam­ily.

“Pre­vi­ous stud­ies have ei­ther an­a­lysed trans­port modes in iso­la­tion or com­pared var­i­ous trans­port modes to each other,” com­mented lead author Ione Ávila Pa­len­cia. “Ours is the first study to as­so­ciate the use of mul­ti­ple ur­ban trans­port modes with health ef­fects such as men­tal health and so­cial con­tact.” “This ap­proach al­lowed us to an­a­lyse the ef­fects more re­al­is­ti­cally, since to­day’s city dwellers tend to use more than one mode of trans­port,” she added. “It also al­lowed us to high­light the pos­i­tive ef­fect of walk­ing, which in pre­vi­ous stud­ies was not very con­clu­sive.”

Re­sults for driv­ing and pub­lic trans­port were not en­tirely con­clu­sive. “Driv­ing and pub­lic-trans­port use were as­so­ci­ated with poor self-per­ceived gen­eral health when the trans­port modes were an­a­lysed separately, but this ef­fect dis­ap­peared in the mul­ti­ple-mode analy­ses,” com­mented Ávila Pa­len­cia. Cars were also as­so­ci­ated with fewer feel­ings of lone­li­ness in all of the analy­ses. Ávila Pa­len­cia noted, “This re­sult is most likely due to the fact that the study pop­u­la­tion drove very in­fre­quently and most jour­neys by car were prob­a­bly for so­cial pur­poses, such as vis­it­ing a fam­ily mem­ber or a friend.”

The find­ings were sim­i­lar in all the seven cities, although Pa­len­cia added that the per­cent­age of peo­ple who cy­cle “re­mains low in all Euro­pean cities, ex­cept in coun­tries like the Nether­lands and Den­mark, which means that there is plenty of room to in­crease bi­cy­cle use.” The find­ings were pub­lished in En­vi­ron­ment In­ter­na­tional. – Re­laxnews

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