New research from U. Wisconsin projects the benefits of active transport in terms of improvements in air quality and physical fitness
PROBLEM: Biking is a cost-effective, eco-friendly way to commute. But what are the health-related advantages of riding a bicycle to work instead of driving?
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RESULTS: Overall, the authors projected that encouraging the use of bikes in the Midwest for short-distance trips could save an estimated $7 billion, including 1,100 lives each year from improved air quality and increased physical fitness. The biggest savings of about $3.8 billion per year was due to prevented complications with conditions like obesity and heart disease.
CONCLUSION: Replacing short car trips with active transport could yield major cost savings and health benefits.
IMPLICATION: Cities should make biking infrastructure safer with better parking, separate bike paths, and more bike racks on buses and trains. Co-author Jonathan Patz says in a statement: "If there are so many health benefits out there, we ought to try to redesign our cities to achieve them without putting new riders at risk."
SOURCE: The full study, "Air Quality and Exercise-Related Health Benefits From Reduced Car Travel in the Midwestern United States," is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Image: Supri Suharjoto/Shutterstock.
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