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Why Better Transportation Options Keep You Healthy

An infographic shows you all the ways that getting to work without your car is better for your health.

You probably already know this instinctively: The more friendly a town or city is to pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation lines, the healthier the citizens. Sitting in a car for hours on end doesn’t do your body any favors. Thanks to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we now have an infographic that lays out the links between health and quality transportation options.

The infographic, created as part of the foundation’s NewPublicHealth National Prevention Strategy series exploring the impacts of transportation and education on health, brings up a number of compelling statistics.

Among them:

  • People are willing walk further than you might think to their destinations: 46% of people say they would walk a mile to church or school, and 35% say they would do the same to go to work.
  • Public transit provides quite a workout. That’s because people expend energy getting to and from the bus, train, or subway. Public transit users walk an average of 19 minutes every day just traveling between stops. It’s not surprising, then, that 30% of public transit riders get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily.
  • In countries around the world, the higher the rate of commuters who walk or bike to work, the lower the overall rates of obesity. It’s probably not a coincidence that the transit-poor U.S. has higher rates of obesity than countries with better transportation systems.

  • Vehicle miles traveled for cars and trucks have increased 39% between 1990 and 2009. And in 2009, 83% of all trips in the U.S. were made in a passenger car. This is bad news for health—every additional hour that you sit in a car, your obesity risk increases 6%.
  • 75% of jobs are outside of city centers, which racks up miles spent sitting in cars and burning gasoline. One solution not mentioned in this infographic: working remotely.

The full infographic is below.