Study: Long-distance travelers report better health than at home

A British study suggests that people who regularly travel more than 15 miles from home are more likely to report being in good health than those who stay at home. Photo by Jay Whatley/Wikimedia Commons

Jan. 4 (UPI) — People who regularly travel more than 15 miles from home report better health than those who live closer to home.

A University College London-led study published on Wednesday examines travel in the north of England, where residents face worse health outcomes than the rest of the country – and many rural and suburban areas have poor access to transport. .

According to researchers, people who travel frequently to diverse destinations are more likely to see friends and family, and this boost in social interaction is linked to better health.

The scientists said their findings, published in the journal Transport & Health, provide strong evidence to support the need for investment in better serviced roads and access to trains and buses.

For their study, researchers said they conducted an online survey of a nationally representative sample of 3,014 residents in the north of England.

While previous research has shown that travel restrictions contribute to economic deprivation and reduced well-being in the region, the impact on population health has not been analyzed before, they said.

Dr. Paulo Ancius, lead author of the study and a researcher at London’s Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources, said in a news release, “The key variable is the number of different places people go outside their local area. It’s connections. More social participation and better health.”

The investigators used a research technique called “path analysis,” which highlights the direct and indirect effects of barriers to people’s travel outside their local area.

They examined the associations between barriers to travel outside the local area, lack of suitable public transport, and people’s self-rated health, travel frequency, number of different places visited, distance travelled, car use and the public. Transportation usage.

They found that the associations between travel restrictions, social participation and health were stronger among the over-55s, who were less likely to interact with friends and reduce their participation in clubs and social activities.

Seniors over 55 are more likely to have limited mobility and be lonely, Ancias said.

And, he said, certain areas in the north of England could face population loss as young people move to cities in search of work and better travel options. This leaves older generations with limited transportation options, leading to less social participation and lower levels of general health.

An October 2022 study found that Britain’s congested roads are affecting people’s mental and physical health.

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