Five Fast Facts - How Active Transportation Contributes to Good Health

1. People are less likely to be injured in areas with calm traffic

Pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and children are less likely to be injured when communities and roads are built with ways to calm traffic, including:

  • speed bumps
  • lower speed limits
  • traffic circles
  • raised medians

And, as more people feel safe enough to walk, bike, or roll around, the risk of injury goes down! The more people who use active transportation, the safer everyone will be.

2. Going to the gym or running isn’t the only way to be physically active – walking, using a manual wheelchair, or cycling can all give you similar health benefits!

Research has shown that when active transportation is an option (think about your local walking paths, bike lanes, and sidewalks) people will make the choice to use them.

In fact, people who use active transportation are more likely to be active during leisure time and are healthier throughout their life!

Changing how active you are is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself against diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

3. Health isn’t just about the physical – access to urban greenery improves your mental health

Calgary has amazing parks, playgrounds, and green spaces. Think about Weaselhead, Glenmore, Rotary, Prince’s Island, Fish Creek, Nose Hill… the list is endless. We are a lucky to have so much green space to enjoy.

These parks not only provide us with a great place to walk, bike, or stroll, they also have a big impact on our mental health. Studies have shown that anxiety, stress, and feelings of loneliness are all lowered when people live close to urban greenery.

4. Active Transportation is good for the environment and for taking a breath of fresh air! 

Cars, trucks, and semis account for nearly half of all air pollution in Canada. The pollution from those vehicles is dangerous for people with heart, lung, and breathing conditions (think allergies, asthma, or angina).

When people choose to use active transportation (bus, walk, bike, roll, scoot, dance – you name it!) they have a much smaller impact on pollution levels. A commuting cyclist has 1/10 the environmental footprint compared to someone who drives to work. Less pollution means that breathing the city’s air is easier for all of us (especially children and older adults!).

5. Active transportation means kids move more and watch a screen less

When schools, homes, and communities are surrounded by fast, busy roads, children are less likely to walk or bike to school and play actively in general. Today, about 1/2 of Canadian children and youth are spending more than two hours per day in front of a screen, and passive transport plays a role.

But when they have sidewalks and parks in their communities, children are more likely to be active and spend less time in front of a screen.

By Katie Lore

References:

Active Healthy Kids Canada (2013). Are We Driving Our Kids to Unhealthy Habits? The 2013 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Toronto: Active Healthy Kids Canada

Active Living Research.  (n.d.). Designed to move: active cities. Retrieved from http://e13c7a4144957cea5013-f2f5ab26d5e83af3ea377013dd602911.r77.cf5.rackcdn.com/resources/pdf/en/active-cities-full-report.pdf

Alberta Center for Active Living (n.d.). Benefits of Active Transportation. Retrieved February 7, 2018 from https://www.centre4activeliving.ca/media/filer_public/07/77/077713ef-e097-4bc5-8278-1fb455d26630/2017-active-transportation-factsheet.pdf

BC Healthy Communities Society [webpage]. (n.d.). Active Transportation. Retrieved from https://planh.ca/take-action/healthy-environments/built-environments/page/active-transportation

City of Calgary. (2017). Traffic calming measures. Retrieved from http://www.calgary.ca/Transportation/Roads/Pages/Development-and-projects/Traffic-calming-measures.aspx

Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention Initiative. (n.d.). Active living, children & youth: What is the Canadian evidence saying? Planning healthy communities fact sheet series. Retrieved from https://www.cip-icu.ca/Files/Healthy-Communities/FACTSHEETS-ChildrenYouth-FINALenglish.aspx

Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention Initiative. (n.d.). Active transportation, health and community design: What is the Canadian evidence saying?https://www.cip-icu.ca/Files/Healthy-Communities/FACTSHEETS-ActiveTransportation-FINALenglish.aspx

Government of Canada. (November 16, 2017). Health effects of air pollution. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/air-quality/health-effects-indoor-air-pollution.html#hi

Government of Canada. (December 14, 2017). What is Active Transportation? Public Health Agency of Canada. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/healthy-living/physical-activity/what-active-transportation.html

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy National Headquarters. (2007). Turning potential into practice: walking and biking as mainstream transportation choices. Retrieved from https://www.railstotrails.org/resourcehandler.ashx?id=3764

Statistics Canada. (October 18, 2017). Physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep in Canadian children and youth. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/171018/dq171018b-eng.pdf

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