© Helen Franzen, ICLEI

People who drive cars as their main form of transport are on average heavier than those who cycle, a new study says.

The EU-funded PASTA project - led by an international group of experts, including Dr Christian Brand of the TSU, and the World Health Organization - is studying how different forms of transport relate to levels of physical activity, and consequently people's health.

PASTA researchers monitored 11,000 volunteers in seven European cities and asked how they move around the city, which mode of transport they use and how much time they spend travelling. The project also asked volunteers to record their height, weight, and to provide information about their attitudes towards walking and bicycling and whether they experienced any accidents recently. An analysis of the data shows that those people who drove cars were on average 4 kilograms heavier than those who cycled.

Dr Adrian Davis, a UK transport and health expert and member of PASTA's advisory board, said: "People who are physically inactive are at high risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cancer, stroke, heart attacks, as well as becoming overweight. Our research shows that factors like urban design, how we move in cites, the use of cars, bikes or walking could play an important role in determining the level of people's daily physical activity.

"Being more active can make you healthier, save you money and improve your life. Getting your recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day by simply integrating it into your travel routine is time efficient in increasingly busy lives . Instead of going to the gym, for example, think about cycling to work."

The PASTA project is looking for more volunteers to take part in its research to help understand the relationship between transport and health.

Elisabeth Raser, Project leader from the BOKU institute in Vienna added: "This is a great opportunity to participate in a pan-European project, where the results will help to improve urban design, mobility and health in European cities. Get involved by visiting www.pastaproject.eu."