New study to explore ways to boost active commuting

by Ashley Harrison | 05 Dec 2014

Getting more people active on their way to work is the aim of a new £1m trial headed up by Bristol University, which will involve businesses in Wales and the west country fitting employees with GPS systems.

The research, which is being funded by the NHS’s National Institute for Health Research, aims to find out whether it is possible to increase the amount of activity employees take on their way to and from work by cycling or walking.

A total of 678 people from 84 workplaces in Swansea, Bath and South Gloucestershire will be asked to wear monitors which measure their activity levels for seven days at the start of the study and then again a year later.

The group will then be split in half, with 42 businesses getting Walk to Work promoters who will fit employees with GPS systems to track routes and record exercise levels, and help them work out safe ways to either cycle or walk to and from the office. The other half will act as a control group and will continue with their normal routines.

Everyone taking part will be asked to keep a travel diary and fill in questionnaires about the way they get to work, the costs involved and their views on the scheme.

“There is evidence of a link between adult obesity levels and the way people commute to work,” said Dr Suzanne Audrey from Bristol’s School of Social and Community Medicine. “Walking to work is an ideal way for some adults to include moderate exercise in their daily routine and help them reach the recommended levels of weekly physical activity.”

In October, Public Health England published Everybody Active, Every Day, a framework for national and local action to address the nation’s physical inactivity epidemic. It estimates £7.4bn is spent annually on health problems related to lack of exercise. So far, initiatives in the the west of England are making their mark, with a report from Bristol City Council detailing how 57 per cent of its workforce aged under 40 are now using methods other than car to get to work.

The Bristol University trial is being carried out by a team which includes researchers from Bath and Swansea universities and Sustrans, a UK charity which aims to make the journeys we do each day safer and more active. Results are expected in February 2018.

Getting more people active on their way to work is the aim of a new £1m trial headed up by Bristol University, which will involve businesses in Wales and the west country fitting employees with GPS systems. The research, which is being funded by the NHS’s National Institute for Health Research, aims to find out whether it is possible to increase the amount of activity employees take on their way
The study will explore how feasible it is to make commuting more active / Shutterstock: connel
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