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Get fitter by bus

It might seem strange for the head of a bus company to write about getting fit. After all, if I told you that you’d lose weight and get healthier sitting on the 5B, you probably wouldn’t believe me.

However, new research shows that people who take public transport are actually healthier than those who walk to work.

A Japanese study found bus and train commuters were less likely by 34% to have diabetes, 27% to have high blood pressure and 44% to be overweight.

Dr Hisako Tsuji of the Moriguchi City Health Examination Centre said: “People should consider taking public transport instead of a car, as part of daily, regular exercise”.

Some 6,000 Japanese commuters took part in the research, which revealed that people who used the bus or train had even lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and weight gain than walkers or bikers. Counterintuitive isn’t it? Perhaps those extra steps to the bus stop or train station, incorporating stairs and escalators, help generate extra activity.

Sales of fitness trackers are soaring. Research tells us that fitness wearables – boosted by sports professionals – will generate around £7bn in revenue by 2020, up from an estimated £2.3bn in 2015.

It’s well known that taking 10,000 steps a day can make you fitter. Our new marketing manager Carole Richmond has set some well-known Brightonians a “get busy, get fitter” challenge.

Magazine publisher Lizzie Lower is kitted out with a Fitbit tracker (measuring steps taken and calories burnt) to compare how travelling either by car, bus or train impacts upon her activity levels.

We also have Guy Lloyd of Juice FM taking the fitness challenge. He has launched a competition to win a month’s bus travel if radio listeners can guess the number of steps he takes from his last bus stop to Juice towers.

We’ll wait eagerly to hear their findings.

It may not be scientific research but the challenge is a fun way to encourage commuters to think about how their daily journey can affect their health. And this is only considering physical health benefits. There are a host of potential mental and social benefits when choosing bus over car. But that’s another blog for another day.

Whatever steps you choose to take to work in the morning, I wish you a happy – and healthy – New Year.

I’d love to hear your views @citybusnews or by email.