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the first and last mile coverWhat would be the benefits of incorporating "active travel" into the daily commute? And what practical ways are there to do this?

These are the subjects of a newly published report written by an academic from Leeds University in conjunction with the bus and rail operator Go-Ahead and RunFriendly, a website aimed at helping people with the practicalities of using running as a method of getting from A to B.

The report, The First and Last Mile - Changing the Dynamic of Everyday Journeys, is based on research into how 850 regular commuters are able to incorporate active travel into their journeys to and from work. It focuses on the benefits that might be secured if people switched from car travel to public transport and used more active travel modes for the journey to and from the railway station or bus stop - making the most of the "first and last" mile of their daily journey.

In the foreward London GP Sarah Jarvis records her gratitude to the sponsors "for assembling this first-of-its-kind research, bringing together this kind of cutting-edge 'nudge' thinking to the world of public transport and attempting to influence how people travel.

"Because a small amount of exercise in the mornings can have huge personal and health benefits, whether that means walking to the next bus stop or cycling to your office. Studies have shown that walking briskly for as little as 10 minutes can increase mental alertness, energy and positive mood, and reduce your risk of heart attack. People who participate in daily physical activity also have approximately a 20% – 30% lower risk of depression and dementia, and regular brisk walking can cut your risk of cancer by as much as 15%.

"Just 10 minutes. A small change, and a big difference."

Or to put it another way,

The potential benefits of physical activity to health are huge. If a medication existed which had a similar effect, it would be regarded as a "wonder drug" or "miracle cure".
Sir Liam Donaldson, former Chief Medical Officer (England)

If we can increase levels of walking and cycling, the benefits are substantial. For people, it means cheaper travel and better health… For society as a whole it means lower congestion, better air quality, and vibrant, attractive places and communities.
Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, 2017

 policies to promote more active first and last miles 1

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