Travelling Away from Home Linked with Better Health


A new study found that people who are habitual of travelling outside their area of residence are healthier than those who stay within their local vicinity. Researchers at UCL lead the study.

The frequency of travelling and the range of places visited are of importance. People who travel 15 miles or more regularly, away from home generally have good health. Moreover, people who travel to a wide array of places and see friends or family more often have a better health.

The results of this research give a strong evidence that better medium or long-distance transportation should be worked on for travel convenience. For example, better roads for commuting via train and buses.

The paper was published in Transport and Health. Ananlysis of travel in North of England was done by the researchers. Residents face the worst health outcomes in the North, in contrast to other parts of England. Furthermore, the rural and suburban areas have a poor quality of accessibility and transport.

Travel Barriers

The researchers specifically looked at the links between constrains perceived. For example, lack of travelling outside local area because of public transport inconveniences and self-perceived health, trip frequency, number of places visited, travelling distances, mode of transport (car or public transport).

Dr. Paulo Anciaes, lead author of the paper said,

We expected to find that restrictions on travel through a lack of access to suitable public transport or to a private car would be linked to residents’ perception of their health because of the lack of social participation.

We 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, finding 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.

Path Analysis

An online survey was also conducted by the researchers, which included 3014 national representative residents of North of England. Moreover, travel constrains contribute to disadvantages in the economy and low sense of well-being among the people of the region. However, no analysis was done on the impact of health.

A research technique called path analysis helped uncover the direct and indirect effects of travel constrains to outside the local area. The study found that there is a strong link between social participation, travel constrains, and health in people above fifty-five years of age. These constrains contribute towards less frequent contact with friends, along with participation in social gatherings. For example, societies and clubs.

Dr Anciaes said,

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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Dr. Armash Shahab is a dentist with a bachelor's degree from Dow University of Health Sciences. She is skilled in general dentistry and is an experienced medical content writer. Her future plans are to work for the betterment of dentistry for the underprivileged in Pakistan, apply for postgraduation, and specialize in Paediatric Dentistry.


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