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Health benefits of transit and active transportation

Benefits to combining biking with transit

Taking the bus or the train is a form of active transportation. Walking or cycling to and from transit service gives you 8 to 33 more minutes of exercise every day.

Better physical health

People who walk, bike and take transit are likely to be more active in their leisure time. Higher levels of daily exercise help:

  • Lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure
  • Lower the risk of some cancers, including breast and colon
  • Lower the risk of type 2 diabetes

Better mental health

Increasing physical activity that comes from taking transit can improve mental health and social connectedness. Active transportation helps you:

  • Improve your mood
  • Get better sleep
  • Lower your stress levels

Stress relief

There are many ways to manage stress. It is important to take time for yourself and do the things that you enjoy. Use your commute as 'me time' to:

  • Listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Catch up on your favourite videos or podcasts
  • Connect with nature - being in nature and seeing it through windows helps improve well-being

Research into the health benefits of transit and active transportation

Wanner M, Gotschi T, Martin-Diener E, Kahlmeier S, Martin BW. Active transport, physical activity, and body weight in adults: a systematic review. Prev Med. 2012;42(5):493-502.

Mueller N, Rojas-Rueda D, Cole-Hunter T, et al. Health impact assessment of active transportation: a systematic review. Prev Med. 2015;76:103-114.

Halton Region Health Department, Active Transportation and Health in Halton. Oakville, Ontario, 2016.

Mueller N, et al. Health Impact Assessment of Active Transportation: A Systematic Review. Preventive Medicine 76, no. 0 (July 2015): 103–14. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.04.010.

Reynolds CCO, Winters M, Ries FJ, Gouge, B. (2010). Active transportation in urban areas: exploring health risks and benefits. National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health.

Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty F.D. Exercise for Mental Health, Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006; 8(2): 106. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/.

Maller, C., Townsend, M., Pryor, A., Brown, P., & St. Leger, L. (2005). Healthy nature, healthy people: ‘Contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations.Health Promotion International, 21(1), 45–54, doi: 10.1093/heapro/dai032.

Mitchell, R. (2012). Is physical activity in natural environments better for mental health than physical activity in other environments? Social Science & Medicine, doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.04.012.

Government of Canada. Mental Health: Coping with stress. 2008. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/healthy-living/your-health/lifestyles/your-health-mental-health-coping-stress-health-canada-2008.html.

Canadian Mental Health Association National. Stress. Toronto, Ontario, 2018. Retrieved from: https://cmha.ca/documents/stress.