(CNN)If someone told you their journey to work took them one hour, how would you react?
Would you envy the brevity of their commute, nod in agreement with mutual respect, or retract in horror at the thought of losing so much of the day?
The majority of commuters living in England and Wales would nod in agreement as the two countries face some of the longest commutes globally, according to a new report (PDF) by the Royal Society of Public Health.
“The foodscape observation of what you encounter is something that should be looked at,” said David Ogilvie, program leader at the UKCRC Center for Diet and Activity Research at the MRC epidemiology unit at the University of Cambridge, who was not involved in producing the report. The report notes that some stations have become destinations for shopping or dining, not just spots to catch a train.
“People do spend time in this environment and what’s on offer is not always in people’s best interest,” Ogilvie said.
As franchise deals at stations come up for renewals, Lloyd hopes the government and train companies take into account the need for more healthy vendors.
An active commute
Ogilvie’s research focuses on the potential for physical activity in someone’s daily commute. “Many of us find it difficult to find time for physical activity in our free time,” he said. “This report identified the value of an active commute.”
Active commuting has received a lot of attention in recent years, to move people away from cars and trains and onto bikes — or simply their feet.
“First and foremost, we need to get people adopting a more active commute,” said Lloyd, but added that this isn’t an option for everyone — such as the million traveling tens of miles to reach their office.
“For a lot of people that may be unrealistic, but they may benefit from the incidental activity,” said Ogilvie. His research recently found that when people stop using their car and commute either by walking, cycling or even on public transport, their BMI tends to go down. “Most people using public transport will have some physical activity on either side of the transport,” he said.
Ogilvie added that more measures need to be put in place to reduce the cost of getting public transport, which pushes people back to their cars, as well as options to store bikes on trains so people can cycle on either side of their journey.
“Commuting is something many of us have to do every day,” he said. “The more we can do to make that health promoting, the better.”