By Robert Preidt
The research included 4,000 British people who were surveyed three times between 2004 and 2007, about their usual way of traveling to and from work. The study participants also provided details on their height and weight.
After adjusting the data to account for other factors that might contribute to weight loss, the researchers found that people who switched from using a car to walking, cycling or public transit had an average weight loss of about 2.2 pounds.
The longer the commute by walking, cycling or public transit, the greater the weight loss, the investigators found. People with physically active commutes of more than 10 minutes lost an average of 4.4 pounds and those with physically active commutes of more than 30 minutes had an average weight loss of about 15.4 pounds over a two-year period.
People who switched from walking, cycling or taking public transit to taking a car to work gained an average of 2.2 pounds, according to the study.
The researchers said that due to the study's design, it doesn't definitively show a cause-and-effect relationship.
The findings were published online May 7 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
If more commuters left their cars at home and walked, cycled or took public transit to work, it could lead to a decline in the average weight of the general population, study author Adam Martin, of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, and colleagues suggested in a journal news release.
"Combined with other potential health, economic, and environmental benefits associated with walking, cycling and public transport, these findings add to the case for interventions to promote the uptake of these more sustainable forms of transport," the study authors concluded.