Study Finds That People Who Walk, Bicycle or Use Public Transit Are Healthiest

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Photo by Fotolia/Andres Rodriguez
A new report spearheaded by the University of British Columbia's Lawrence Frank explores the relationship between transportation and health care.

A new report from the University of British Columbia shows that transportation and health are closely linked and recommends that health outcome be considered in transportation planning.

The report, funded by TransLink and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority as part of updates to Transport 2040, the regional transportation strategy, presents a range of opportunities for Translink to incorporate health into its planning.

“This report documents how prioritizing transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure will positively impact health,” says the study’s lead author Lawrence Frank, Professor and Director of the Health and Community Design Lab, part of UBC’s School of Population and Public Health. “It looks at encouraging active transportation, such as walking, cycling and transit, and reducing air pollution and traffic collision risk.”

Previous research by Frank has shown that every hour a person spends in a car each day makes them 6 percent more likely to be obese, while each additional kilometer a person walks makes them 5 percent less likely to be obese.

Sedentary lifestyle is a major cause of many chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and some cancers. Many chronic diseases are preventable and active transportation and other sustainable transportation choices offer the possibility of prevention and even treatment through increased physical activity. The costs of these diseases are projected to increase by more than $1.5 billion in British Columbia over the next two to three years.

“TransLink’s consideration of the health impacts of transportation systems could help offset the rising costs of health care in the Vancouver area and promote an active lifestyle that will benefit all Canadians,” Frank adds.

The full report is available in PDF format at TransLink.

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