In a study from University College London, scientists found that traveling farther away from home may boost your health.
They explored the links between constraints to travel more than 15 miles from home, demographics, and location, and social participation in how residents perceived their own health.
The team found that the key variable is the number of different places people visit outside their local area. This links to more social participation and better health.
In the study, the researchers conducted an online survey of 3,014 nationally representative residents in the north of England.
Constraints to travel have previously been identified as contributing to economic disadvantage and a lower sense of well-being in the region, but the impact on health hadn’t been analyzed before.
The team used a research technique called “path analysis,” which uncovers the direct and indirect effects of constraints to travel outside of people’s local area.
The study found that the links between travel constraints, social participation, and health are stronger among those aged over 55.
Among this group, constraints to the number of different places people can travel to are linked to less frequent contact with friends and participation in clubs and societies.
The team explained that those aged over 55 are more likely to face other constraints to travel such as limited mobility. They are also more likely to suffer from loneliness.
In the north of England, rural and suburban areas with limited access options are more likely to experience population loss as young people move to the cities in search of work and good travel options.
Meanwhile, older generations are left behind in these areas with limited transport options. The range of places they can visit is low, leading to less social participation and lower levels of general health.
The results of this study emphasize the need for public policies that reduce constraints to travel in the region, by providing better options for private and public transport that allows for more frequent and longer trips.
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The study was conducted by Paulo Anciaes and Paul Metcalfe and published in Transport & Health.
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