Cutting down on travel time could play a factor in weight loss

Reducing the time spent sitting behind the wheel, even by a small amount, can lower an individual's body mass index (BMI).

When considering losing weight, most people tend to think of eating healthier, exercising more often or going on a diet. But according to a new study by University of Illinois researchers, traveling by car also impacts body weight, as simply not sitting down for extended periods can potentially add to the needed amount of exercise per day. Reducing the time spent sitting behind the wheel, even by a small amount, can lower an individual's body mass index (BMI). Their findings are published in the journal of Preventive Medicine.

Living healthier, driving less?
By the most recent estimations, more than one-third of adults in the United States are obese, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, those with higher BMI levels are more susceptible to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. While those who live with these conditions may buy Actos or buy Lipitor from an online pharmacy to manage their symptoms, daily exercise and eating healthy are commonly recommended to help with weight loss. Now, as this study finds, traveling may also play a factor for those looking to be more healthy.

Kicking calories to the curb
Using a multivariable model that related the national BMI average with caloric intake and driving habits, the team of researchers at the University of Illinois projected how overall calories consumed correlated with miles driven and an individual's BMI. According to the study, if all American adults were to cut back on driving by at least 1 mile every day, the national BMI average would decrease after an estimated six years. Based on their findings, when compared to nationally reducing 100 calories consumed each day per person, time curbed in the car had a greater effect.

"An easy way to be more physically active is to spend less time in an automobile. Any time a person sits behind the wheel of a car, it's one of the most docile activities they can do in a day," said computer science and mathematics professor Sheldon H. Jacobson, Ph.D, of the University of Illinois. "The automobile is the quickest mode of transportation we have. But a consequence of this need for speed in getting things done may be the obesity epidemic."

Based on CDC statistics, less than half of all adults in the United States meet the latest Physical Activity Guidelines. By spending less time traveling in a car and exercising more often, individuals can potentially take a step in the right direction to weight loss.

"We're saying that making small changes in travel or diet choices may lead to comparable obesity reduction, which implies that travel-based interventions may be as effective as dietary interventions," said co-author of the study, graduate student Banafsheh Behzad.