A UK study has found that people who cycle, walk or catch the train or bus to work are much fitter than those who travel by car.
The survey included 150,000 UK adults aged 40 or older who agreed to be measured and weighed and fill in a survey about their typical journey to and from work.
Cycling scored second for staying trim, followed by walking.
Even those using public transport were leaner than those using cars for travel.
Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology study authors say the findings show that even a little physical activity is better than nothing at all.
They reached their conclusions by comparing the bodyweights and lifestyles of the 72,999 men and 83,667 women in their study.
Even including other factors such as leisure-time, exercise, diet and occupation, the trend between commute method and bodyweight remained.
And greater reductions in percentage body fat were directly in proportion to travelling distances, for both cycling and walking. The results showed greater travelling distances were associated with greater reductions in percentage body fat.
The calculated that an “average” height man would weigh around 5kg (11lbs) less if he were to cycle rather than drive to work each day.
Similarly, the average height woman would weigh 4.4kg (9.7lbs) less.
The study included 64% of men and 61% of women who commuted by car, while 4% of men and 2% of women reported either cycling or a combination of cycling and walking.
As per the census data, in England and Wales, 23.7 million people regularly commute to work and around two-thirds of them commute by car.
Dr Ellen Flint, Study author from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “We know that physical activity can help prevent obesity – absolutely we do – and yet, two thirds of the UK population don’t achieve weekly recommended levels of physical activity.
“This study shows basically that people who do manage to build some level of physical exertion into their commute, even if it’s just walking to a bus stop or cycling a short distance, they tend to be less heavy and have less body fat than people who drive all the way to work.”
She said that walking or cycling to work should be made easy by policy makers and town planners.
She continued, “It’s a win, win really for public health and the environment”.
Deputy Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, Justin Varney said: “Physical activity can play a role in maintaining a healthy weight, and helps to prevent or manage over 20 long-term conditions such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
“Walking and cycling are some of the easiest ways for people to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives and it is never too late to start.”
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