Your Daily SEPTA Ride Is Good for You (This Is Not a Joke)

If you're opting for the El instead of driving to work, you're doing your waistline a favor.

Most days, I don’t think my commute on the El is doing much for my life — I mean, aside from upping my gratitude for Purell and providing me with some great dinner-party stories. (“One time, on my way home from work, a human being barked at me — yes, like a dog — for 15 minutes straight.” That is a true story.) But a new study published in the Lancet found that taking public transportation to work instead of driving actually does do you some good, at least when it comes to your waistline, Fast Company reports.

Now, of course, when it comes to active commutes, your SEPTA ride won’t have as great an effect on your waistline as biking or walking to work. That said, the study, which looked at over 150,000 middle-aged men and women in the UK, found that taking public transportation instead of driving to work still resulted in significantly lower BMI. To wit: Men who took public transportation to work combined with another mode of transport, like walking, had an average BMI that was one full point lower than those who drove. And even those who didn’t combine public transportation with any other active mode of transportation saw a significant drop in BMI.

But if you really want to see a drop in weight while you commute, cycling is the way to go. The study found that, on average, cycling to work instead of driving resulted in a weight difference of 11 pounds in men and nearly 10 pounds in women. Now that’s what I call incentive to overcome your fear of helmet hair.

But if you live too far from work to consider cycling or walking, take solace in knowing — when a stranger is literally barking at you on the subway — that your SEPTA commute could actually be doing you some good, if you’re choosing it over driving. As the study author said in a press release, “… even the incidental physical activity involved in public transport can have an important effect.”

Like what you’re reading? Stay in touch with Be Well Philly — here’s how: