It should come as no shock that driving isn’t the healthiest activity in the world. (After all, it’s basically just stress-addled sitting that takes away from your gym time.) But how does it stack up to calorie intake when it comes to causing weight gain—or even obesity?
To find out, researchers from the University of Illinois looked at 26 years of data on American adults—including calorie intake, miles driven and BMI. Based upon this information, they estimate that if every adult in the U.S. drove one fewer mile each day, it would have an effect similar to cutting 100 calories from their diet. Their results were published in the journal Preventive Medicine last month.
The effect for driving less was more subtle, taking longer to affect BMI than eating less. Still, the overall message holds true—if you want to lose weight, you need to look at your entire lifestyle. And as prior research has also proven, sitting for long periods of time or making a major commute each day aren’t the best things for your health.
To make the most of this, consider these tips for safe weight loss:
- Reduce your driving time by parking further from work, walking to the bus stop or combining your errands into one trip.
- Don’t eat while you drive. Why combine unhealthy sitting with mindless eating?
- Trade driving for physical activity, like running or walking.