An hour in traffic a day, and your health with pay
The Australian Bureau of Statistics says that 78 per cent of us use a car as our main form of transport to work.
But would you be less likely to jump behind the wheel if you knew it was widening your waistline?
People who spend an hour or more each day sitting in traffic are 2.3 kilograms heavier and 1.5 cm wider in the waist than those people who spend 15 minutes or less in their cars, finds new research.
This is the key finding from a study led by Professor Takemi Sugiyama from the Australian Catholic University's Institute for Health and Ageing.
Professor Sugiyama assessed the driving habits of 2,800 adults against health measures including body mass index, waist circumference, fasting plasma glucose, and a range of cardio-metabolic risk factors.
He says while active transport – like walking, riding or catching the train – reduces traffic congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, there is now a “compelling body of evidence of the adverse health impact of prolonged time spent in cars”.
The way we design and build our neighbourhoods can either promote or discourage physical activity. And this is why new developments must demonstrate how their designs encourage healthy, active living if they are to gain Green Star – Communities ratings.
Tony Perrin lives at Bowden in South Australia, a new community overlooking parklands in north-west Adelaide. Bowden has a 6 Star Green Star – Communities rating from the Green Building Council of Australia, which represents world leadership in the design of sustainable communities.
Tony catches the tram or train to work each day, and says the “commuting is great”.
“The ability to be out my front door and on a tram in 10 minutes, with a direct line into the city is fantastic. My car sits in my car parking space five days a week.”
Tony says it was a “conscious decision” to purchase a home in an area where the city and local amenities are easily accessible without a car.
“I can even walk to my job in the CBD, which is always a great way to start the day.
“For me, this is a physical and mental benefit, because I hate sitting in a car in traffic.”
Renewal SA’s partnership with car service called GoGet is also gaining traction.
“There are two cars on my street, which is great for people who don’t own a vehicle. I have a small car which is perfect for my needs most of the time, but I’ve used the GoGet wagon when I need to carry something big like a piece of furniture.”