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Is it time to get out of the car for physical activity benefits?
  1. April F Mohanty1,2
  1. 1Informatics, Decision-Enhancement, and Analytic Sciences Center (IDEAS 2.0), VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  2. 2Division of Epidemiology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr April F Mohanty, Informatics, Decision-Enhancement, and Analytic Sciences Center (IDEAS 2.0), VA Salt Lake City Health Care System, Salt Lake City, UT 84148, USA; april.mohanty{at}va.gov

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The health benefits of regular physical activity in preventing chronic disease-related  morbidity and mortality have been well established.1 2 Evidence suggests that regular physical activity reduces all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality by 20%–30% in a dose–response manner, among healthy individuals across sex and a wide age range.1 Further, there is increasing concern over physical inactivity globally, which is a leading cause of premature death, accounting for >5 million deaths/year worldwide.3 Current Joint European Society of Cardiology and American Heart Association guidelines recommend that all healthy adults engage in ≥150 min/week of moderate intensity or ≥75 min/week of vigorous intensity physical activity; however, 23% of adults do not meet recommended activity levels globally.1 2 4 The guidelines also state that ‘any activity is better than none and more activity is better than some.’1 It has been suggested that the increased use of ‘passive’ modes of transportation contributes to insufficient physical activity.4 Research on the effect of more active modes of travel for work or other purposes on the risk of morbidity and mortality is ongoing.

In their Heart paper, Panter5 and colleagues investigate the possible health benefits (including potential lower CVD, cancer morbidity and mortality risk) associated with active modes of travel for work and other purposes, combined and separately, versus exclusive vehicle use for transportation. The prospective observational study included adults aged 37–73 years old who were participants in the UK Biobank, a large national population-based study, designed to measure and track the health of more than half a million adult residents of primarily urban areas in the UK, recruited from 2006 to 2010. At baseline, participants completed an extensive electronic questionnaire on sociodemographic, health status, and lifestyle characteristics, and modes of commute and non-commute travel. Active travel was defined as bicycling or walking alone or in combination with a vehicle for …

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