Health Benefits of a Car-Free Life 

Why sit in traffic when you could be burning calories by living car-free? Making time to exercise can be difficult, but incorporating biking or walking into your commute can help you lose weight, prevent health conditions, and boost your mood. It can also help you achieve the doctor’s recommended 2.5 hours of activity each week without a gym membership. So switch now to a car-free lifestyle to unlock numerous health benefits!

Weight Loss

  

In recent years obesity in the United States has skyrocketed to 36.5% according to the CDC. Did you know that each hour spent in the car increases the likelihood of obesity by 6%?

Ditching your car could help you shed those extra pounds; no gym membership required. By walking to work you could burn 120 calories per 30 minute commute, amounting to 600 calories for a 5 day work week. A healthier commute could even decrease cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.

Disease Prevention

 

A healthy commute can not only prevent health problems from forming, but reduce the severity of pre-existing conditions. Lack of physical activity increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other diseases.

Walking 7 or more hours per week can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer by 14%. Walking 5-6 miles per week can prevent arthritis from forming. Plus, people who walk 20 minutes per day for at least 5 days a week are shown to have 43% fewer sick days.

In addition, reducing CO2 emissions can prevent respiratory and cardiovascular complications for everyone. Exposure to traffic emissions is linked to premature mortality, cardiac symptoms, exacerbation of asthma symptoms, and diminished lung function. A healthy commute can lead to fewer problems down the road.

 

Mental Health

 

Use your commute as a time to prepare yourself for the day ahead and clear your mind afterward. Exercise can reduce anxiety, depression, and negative mood by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.

Regular activity can work as well as medication to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. Exercise can even reduce the severity of symptoms over time. Researchers found that those who regularly exercised were 25% less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next 5 years.

As little as 10 minutes of walking or cycling can dramatically improve the quality of your nighttime sleep by reducing stress and tiring you out. A sustainable commute can make for a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Curb Noise Pollution

 

When you think about the dangers associated with driving, noise pollution may not be your first thought.  But noise pollution caused by cars is in reality a ever-growing problem that plagues cities and towns across the U.S., including New Haven.  According to the World Health Organization, noise pollution falls second to air pollution in the impact it has on health.

 

In cities with large traffic congestion (which New Haven has), noise pollution has been found to cause hearing loss, heart disease, learning problems in children, sleep disturbance, and stress. Research shows that our bodies perceive unwanted or intrusive noise as a threat or warning, triggering stress-inducing reactions from our bodies (such as the release of stress hormones, changes in heart rate and rhythm, and rise in blood cholesterol level). Researchers at the University of Michigan estimate that about one-third of Americans are exposed to harmful noise, and might be at risk of noise-related health problems. 

 

All of these negative side effects caused by noise pollution can be curbed, and giving up your car is one easy way to help be a part of the solution. If New Haven has fewer cars on the road, there will be less noise pollution in the city, leading to an increased quality of life for resident across all neighborhoods.

 

Read more:

5 surprising benefits of walking

Physical activity is medicine for older adults

How much physical activity do older adults need?

 Driving: A Road to Unhealthy Lifestyles and Poor Health Outcomes

 Exercise for Mental Health

CDC Recommendations for Improving Health through Transportation Policy

Exercise for Stress and Anxiety

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