Losing Weight? Forget Calories. Drive Less.

For all of you folks out there looking to shed a little of the holiday coat that you put on from too many Christmas Ales and pieces of cheesecake (oh wait, that’s me!), here’s an idea for you. Everyone knows that if you cut calories, you’ll drop pounds. But here’s another correlation that you might not be so familiar with.

Drive fewer miles.

According to a recent study from the University of Illinois, cutting the miles spent behind the wheel of a car could have a direct, long-term effect on your BMI, even if you cut the miles just a little bit. After all, sitting behind the wheel of the car is one of the most sedentary things we do all day, other than reading this blog, of course.

What’s more, you don’t even have to replace that mile driven with a mile walked. You can read a book. The point is, the less time driven, the more weight lost.

To get to this point, the researchers took data on the total number of miles driven for each year between 1984 and 2010, and divided it by the number of licensed drivers in the country during those years. The result was the average number of miles driven by each person for nearly two decades. They then used some fancy mathematical modeling to correlate the rise in miles driven with the rise in average BMI, another stat easily available for reproduction.

As it turns out, cutting the national average of driving by just one mile per day will have a greater impact than if the public at large cut out 100 calories a day. At least, that’s what the correlated numbers say. Of course, reality is much more complicated than that. And it’s not by very much.

According to the numbers, nationally cutting a mile driven per day would drop the average BMI by 0.21, while cutting 100 calories perperson would drop it 0.16. With the national average at 27.55, however, you’re really not making much of a dent, even if it works.

But still, isn’t it worth a shot?

The paper, “Quantifying the association between obesity, automobile travel, and caloric intake,” was published in Preventive Medicine by University of Illinois professor of computer science and mathematics Sheldon H. Jacombson, graduate student Banafsheh Behzad, and Douglas King, a visiting lecturer of industrial systems enterprise engineering.


About bigkingken

A science writer dedicated to proving that the Big Ten - or the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, if you will - is more than athletics.
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One Response to Losing Weight? Forget Calories. Drive Less.

  1. Khalid says:


    That is one of my favorite sites in case any of your readers are looking for motivation.

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