Health Benefits of Active Transportation
Active transportation means any form of human-powered transportation. It generally means walking or biking but can also include rollerblading, skateboarding, canoeing, or any other way you like to get around.
There are tons of benefits of active transportation. In fact, lots of reports have been written on just that. I’ve chosen to look at a report by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities called Active Transportation in Canada: a resource and planning guide. The report outlines several health, environmental, economic and social benefits of active transportation.
Here’s a summary of the health benefits of active transportation that will definitely have you walking to the grocery store.
Active transportation can significantly reduce the risk of becoming overweight or obese because it adds bits of exercise into your daily routine without you even thinking about it. On the flip side, your risk of obesity goes up 6% per day for every hour spent in a car. All those hours in the car add up to some serious health effects. Obesity can often lead to heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers.
This is a big problem in car-reliant countries like Canada. In fact, in 2011, 60% of Canadian adults were considered overweight or obese as well as 26% of Canadian children and youth. This may be due to the fact that in the same year 51% of Canadian adults weren’t getting their recommended level of daily physical activity. In addition to causing negative health effects, low physical activity rates result in an estimated $5.3 billion per year in direct and indirect health care costs!
Here’s some good news.
It’s estimated that your risk of obesity goes down by almost 5% per day for every kilometre walked! According to my Google Maps calculations, that means that in about 15 minutes of walking you can lower your risk of obesity by 5%.
Another good thing. Physical activity isn’t just great for your body, it’s also great for your mind. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, research confirms that exercise relieves stress, reduces muscle tension, improves blood flow and floods our body with feel-good chemicals. Exercise can also reduce anxiety and symptoms of mild depression.
If you’re someone who’s motivated by a chance to improve your help, then lace up those running shoes. If environmental benefits are what really move you, read my next post.