Source: University of Otago, 1 Noevember 2017
New Zealanders who walk and cycle for transport are much more
likely to have adequate levels of physical activity than those who
The University of Otago Wellington study, released this week in
the Journal of Transport and Health, has shown, for the first time,
that New Zealanders who walk and cycle for transport have a 76 per
cent higher chance of meeting the New Zealand physical activity
guidelines than those who drive cars.
Lead author Dr Caroline Shaw says the study contributes to the
growing body of evidence that "active transport" is an effective
way of increasing physical activity for New Zealanders.
Dr Shaw notes the benefits of physical activity are well known,
and include reducing and preventing many diseases.
"We already know that physical activity reduces diabetes,
improves mental health (both preventing depression and reducing the
symptoms of it), prevents some cancers, heart disease, obesity,
stroke and reduces all-cause mortality," says Dr Shaw, from the
Department of Public Health at the University of Otago,
"Physical activity is almost a panacea for many of the health
issues that we face in New Zealand," she says.
"However, only half of New Zealanders are currently sufficiently
active. This study shows that if you walk or cycle to your main
activity you are much more likely to be sufficiently active to gain
the health benefits of physical activity."
This study, which uses data from the Health and Lifestyles
Survey undertaken by the Health Promotion Agency, analysed
information from about 5000 adults from a cross-section of the NZ
"We have engineered physical activity out of modern life in the
last few generations - we now need to engineer it back in," says Dr
The research, uniquely, looked at people who are not in work as
well as those who are in work. It found that, no matter whether you
are in work, retired, in tertiary education or unemployed, walking
or cycling for transport means people are more likely to meet
physical activity guidelines.
This finding supports the case for ongoing, and expanded,
efforts to put in cycle ways in New Zealand cities and make cities
more compact and walkable.
The good news is that these policies are also ways to achieve
other positive outcomes such as reduced congestion, better social
connectedness, decreased crime, reduced air pollution and carbon
This study also looked at whether people who take public
transport to their main activity have higher levels of physical
activity than those who drive. In contrast to other research, this
study did not find strong evidence that people who take public
transport have higher levels of physical activity than those who
drive their cars.
The researchers also looked at who walks, cycles and takes
public transport in New Zealand, and found that people who use
these modes of transport are more likely to be younger, with lower
incomes and are mostly men.
"The important questions to focus on now are what are the best