Transit riders three times more fit than drivers

There’s a bigger difference between us transit riders and the average auto commuter than just the CTA card tucked in the purse or pocket. We are likely to be three times more fit than car guy.

That’s according to a Medical News Today report:

The study, published in the Journal of Public Health Policy,
finds that people who take public transit are three times more likely
than those who don’t to meet the Heart and Stroke Foundation of
Canada’s suggested daily minimum of physical activity. . . .

Because transit trips by bus and train often involve walking to and
from stops, the study found that users are more likely to meet the
recommended 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, five days a

According to the study, people who drove the most were the least likely to meet the recommended level of physical activity.

“The idea of needing to go to the gym to get your daily dose of
exercise is a misperception,” says Frank, the J. Armand Bombardier
Chairholder in Sustainable Transportation and a researcher at the UBC
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability. “These short
walks throughout our day are historically how we have gotten our
activity. Unfortunately, we’ve engineered this activity out of our
daily lives.”

And if that’s not enough to make you want to add value to your card, a Washington Post story notes that more car use means likely means greater obesity:

“The study of nearly 11,000 people in the Atlanta area found that people
living in highly residential areas tend to weigh significantly more
than those in places where homes and businesses are close together.”

So keep those CTA cards handy. And try not to be so smug and “fit-looking” among your driving friends.

Filed under: CTA in the news


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  • Hey--It let me in!

  • Let's hope this switch will not cause any noticeable difference, except positives ones.

    Is it really all that surprising that people who drive cars get less exercise(and thus more likely to be overweight) than people who don't? I mean suburbanites get in their car to drive from one side of a strip mall to another!

  • This also tends to confirm an idea I've often read, that a major reason Europeans tend to be slimmer and healthier than Americans is that walking is still part of daily life for most of them.

    It's true enough that correlation does not equal causation. That would be why, according to the abstract of the original article, "We controlled for demographics, neighborhood density, presence of services near workplaces, distance from home to transit, and car availability in our sample of 4,156 completed surveys." (

    Meanwhile, I can offer my own experience. I am one of those lazy, morally defective slobs who find it very difficult to carve out time, and expend energy, for the express purpose of exercising. But when I worked downtown, on most days I walked from my house to a Metra station and then across the Loop to my workplace, and lo, I was walking about three miles a day just in the regular course of my life. So I had no upper body strength and was marginally coordinated enough to tie my own shoes, but I had pretty decent endurance and cardiovascular health, my cholesterol was low, I weighed maybe 160 at most, and pants with a 34-inch waist were if anything a little loose. And I felt physically good most of the time. Then I was forced to change jobs, and like many job-seekers in the suburbanized twenty-first century, I found that the only openings were in places where getting to work means driving and parking in a parking lot. Within three or four years I was battling a weight problem for the first time in my life, my cholesterol was creeping up, and I was panting at the top of a flight of stairs. I don't think I aged enough during those few years to account for all those changes. I would say I have aged more, and am facing the prospect of a shorter and unhealthier future, than would be true if I were still taking transit to work.

    --R.A. Stewart (the quondam Quondam El Rat)

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