One simple hack to help achieve your weekly exercise goal

One simple hack to help achieve your weekly exercise goal


Unlocking the active minutes of your daily commute is a simple way to achieve the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended daily step count. Our recent study into active travel set out to better understand this opportunity and the health and well-being benefits that arise from different modes of transport.


Beyond the train or bus journey itself, a relatively overlooked aspect of public transport commuting is the ‘first & last mile’ – that is the (four) daily journeys that people make to and from the stations or stops near their homes and workplaces. Typically these journeys are a small fraction of the total distance travelled but, in terms of time, potentially as long as the train or bus journey itself and a substantial part of the working day. Our recently published report into the Future of Travel set out to examine how people travel their first & last mile.


Historically, with rail and bus stations often built on the edges of towns and cities,  walking between the station and the workplace or home would have been commonplace. Today, urban transport networks (e.g. connecting buses or the London Underground) and mass car ownership provide people with convenient alternatives. But such choices incur costs, including the various stresses and strains arising from congestion and car parking near railway stations, as well as the missed opportunity to engage in physical activity.


Physical activity is a critically important determinant of health and wellbeing. Yet well over one-third of working-aged adults in Britain (around 20 million people) do not meet the minimum levels of physical activity that are recommended in international WHO guidelines and promoted by the UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs). The Chief Medical Officers provide two specific examples of the amount and type of physical activity that people should aim to achieve: Thirty minutes of brisk walking or cycling on five days each week or 75 minutes of running each week.


A common problem for working-aged adults is finding time to do more physical activity. For example, the nationally-representative Health Survey for England (HSE) interviewed around 6,800 people who said work commitments (45% of men and 34% of women) and a lack of leisure time (38% of men and 37% of women) were the two most common barriers to more physical activity.


In contrast, for most public transport commuters, the first & last mile are an unavoidable fixture of the daily routine and thus perhaps an ideal opportunity to integrate a good amount of physical activity into their daily lives.


Read more and download the full report at

Mark Anderson