When we think about achieving our weight loss goals, tactics like cutting the number of calories we consume likely come to mind. But what about spending less time in the car?
A new study from the University of Illinois shows that in addition to how many calories we eat, the amount of time we spend traveling by car each day instead of exercising may also be linked with our body mass index.
"The most important thing for people to learn from this study is that they have a choice," study researcher Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor of computer science and mathematics at the university, said in a statement. "One has to be just as careful about when you choose to drive as when you choose to eat. These small changes in our driving and dietary habits can lead to long-term significant changes in obesity issues. Those are the kind of changes we advocate."
The findings, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, included nationwide data on BMI, with relation to how many calories Americans consume each day and how many miles they drive each day.
By using a mathematical model, the researches were able to find that after six years, driving one fewer mile a day is linked with a decrease of 0.21 kilograms per meter squared in BMI nationally.
Researchers also found that decreasing calorie intake by 100 calories each day is linked with a decrease of 0.16 kilograms per meter squared in BMI nationally.
"One mile is really not much," study researcher Banafsheh Behzad, a graduate student at the university, said in the statement. "If they would just consider even taking the bus, walking the distance to the bus stop could have an impact like eating 100 calories less per day. The main thing is paying attention to caloric intake and moving more, together, can help reduce BMI."
For some ideas to get more steps in your day, click through the slideshow: