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Did You Know?: Healthy Commuting

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Air date: July 26, 2009

Host: Jeremy Shere, PhD

Did You know?
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Wishard Health Services

Did you Know? is presented by Wishard Health Services, becoming Eskenazi Health in 2014.

Did you know that people who walk or bike to work are more fit than people who drive?

Well, duh, right? The more active you are, the better shape you're in.

That's what researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill confirmed in a recent report. They studied about 2300 commuters over a one year period. And they found that commuters who walked or biked at least part way were healthier than commuters who only drove. Walkers and bikers were less fat and had healthier blood pressure.

Now, again, this may seem obvious. But consider that of the commuters studied, only a very small number -- about 16 percent -- were active commuters. And that holds true for the millions of American who commute to and from work every day. The vast majority are stuck behind a wheel.

That's worth caring about for a few reasons. First, because dozens of other studies have shown that long, daily car commutes are bad for your health. Commuting is stressful. And stress can lead to high blood pressure and a host of other problems.

But on the flip side, as the North Carolina researchers documented, finding ways to walk or bike instead of drive can make a big difference. If that's simply not possible, there are plenty of other ways to make your commute more active -- like parking a few blocks from the office and walking, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

And now you know.