Promoting the Health Benefits of Walking and Bicycling to Work: A Qualitative Exploration of the Role of Healthcare Providers in Addressing Barriers to Active Commuting.
Physical inactivity adds a disease burden to society comparable with smoking. Though physical activity has far-reaching benefits on health and disease,2-4 many adults and children do insufficient physical activity to maintain good health. Walking or bicycling to work (active commuting) represents one approach to encourage the population to be more active.
Finally, participants suggested that physicians could act as community advocates to promote safe cycling infrastructure, better work and school accommodations, and greater education. One participant suggested that active commuting could be approached in the same manner that public health, government agencies, and individual healthcare providers have approached smoking cessation. In addition to individual healthcare interventions, there could be a role for workplace incentives for active commuters and for increased media attention around the benefits of active commuting.
Participants brain stormed large-scale societal changes for which physicians could advocate. One participant suggested that doctors focus on pressuring governments to make a more walk and cycle-friendly environment before asking patients for individual change.
Through this qualitative study, we identified 3 main kinds of barriers to active commuting in attendees of a family practice—internal, external, and social. The patient-identified barriers helped
shape and inform the discussion of healthcare provider intervention. The relationship between barriers and other determinants of active commuting is complex. Ogilvie et al29 have developed a framework to understand the relationship between the multiple determinants of active commuting. For example, family physicians could speak to their city council in support of bicycle lane additions. Healthcare providers can also provide information and research to encourage private companies to invest in workplace active commuting infrastructure.
Sport Exerc Med Open J. 2016; 2(2): 24-32. doi: 10.17140/SEMOJ-2-135