Posted on Feb 26, 2016, 6 a.m.
Incidental physical activity resulting from everyday activity can save lives and money.
Walking to catch a train to work or bicycling to errands may have vast and important benefits for the health of both an individual and society at-large. Such methods of active transport may save lives and millions of health sector dollars. Marj Moodie, from Deakin University (Australia), and colleagues analyzed the daily travel patterns and incidental physical activity, such as the time spent walking to get to transport, of over 29,840 people in Melbourne. Car drivers averaged 8 to 10 minutes of incidental exercise daily, public transport users 35 minutes daily, and walkers/cyclists 38 minutes daily. People in the inner city were found to be more than six times more likely to get sufficient physical activity from travel compared with people living in the outer suburbs. The team then calculated that incidental physical activity could result in 272 less deaths per year, 903 fewer new cases of disease and savings of up to $12.2 million in the health sector and $22.9 million in lost production. The study authors urge that: “Improving population levels of incidental [physical activity] may improve health and economic outcomes.”
Beavis MJ, Moodie M. “Incidental physical activity in Melbourne, Australia: health and economic impacts of mode of transport and suburban location.” Health Promot J Austr. 2014 Dec;25(3):174-81.