Skip to main content

Free bus passes have health benefits

Free bus passes for over-60s may be encouraging older people to be more physically active, say the authors of a study published in the American Journal of Public Health by researchers from the Department of Public Health & Primary Care at Imperial College London. The researchers reached their conclusion by analysing four years of data from the UK National Travel Survey. They found that people with a bus pass are more likely to walk frequently and take more journeys by "active travel" - defined as walking, cycling or using public transport. These associations cut across socio-economic groups, suggesting that wealthier and poorer people are benefiting from the scheme equally.

Keeping physically active helps to maintain mental wellbeing, mobility and muscle strength in older people and reduces their risk of cardiovascular disease, falls and fractures. Previous research has shown that 15 minutes of moderate daily exercise is associated with a 12 per cent lower risk of death is people over 60.

"Given the need to encourage older people to be physically active, it's good news that the provision of free bus passes seems to be having a positive impact," said Sophie Coronini-Cronberg, from the Department of Primary Care & Public Health at Imperial College London, who led the study. "Before the government looks at reforming the scheme, they should make sure we understand its value to society. We would welcome more research in this area, such as a detailed cost analysis to establish whether the scheme represents good value for money."

The researchers examined data from the National Travel Survey from 2005, the year before free bus basses were implemented, until 2008. They included results from respondents aged 60 or over in England, giving a total of 16,911 people. The percentage of respondents with a free pass rose from 56.8 per cent in 2005 to 74.7 per cent in 2008. The findings show that the biggest factor associated with not using active travel or walking is having access to a car. People in large urban areas are more likely to use active transport, and people in rural areas or small towns are more likely to report walking frequently.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Introducing the WATCCH Project - Widening Access to Careers in Community Healthcare

The Undergraduate Primary Care Education team in the Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial College London has kicked off an exciting new work experience programme called WATCCH – Widening Access to Careers in Community Healthcare.
There is a shortage of work experience in the health sector for pupils, particularly for those who have no connection to healthcare professionals. WATCCH aims to open up work experience opportunities in the healthcare sector by offering placements for sixth form pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to shadow various allied healthcare professionals in general practices. These 16/17 year olds have completed their GCSEs with good grades, do not have placements elsewhere, and are the first in their family applying to university. 
Pupils will attend a pre-placement induction at Imperial College's Charing Cross Hospital Campus, and will then have a 3-day work experience session at a general practice where they will observe a variety of allie…

What makes a good placement?

In the New Year, Dr Kevin Patel a GP ST3 on the Imperial VTS, takes a reflective look at the factors that go into making a good clinical attachment for trainees.
As GP trainees we are ‘encouraged’ to reflect; challenging encounters with patients, conversations with colleagues that could have gone better, moments when you felt like you were born to do this job. All of this is good fodder for your ePortfolio.
Not one to miss out on a reflective opportunity, I took a step back from a discussion that was taking place about difficult rotations, a conversation I imagine that is oft-repeated amongst GPs and hospital doctors up and down the country, and thought about how we could use our experience as GP trainees to feed into this.
As trainees we rotate into diverse placements, from paediatrics to public health to care of the elderly. I counted at least 15 distinct departments I have worked in since finishing medical school just over 5 years ago. This is more than any other specialty trainee…

Say hello, wave goodbye...

Our GP Derm and Paeds Course Lead Dr Emma Metters sadly left us this month to take a new post at St George's. She reflects on her time at Imperial below:
My time as GP Derm and Paeds Course Lead has come to an end but the good news is the wonderful Senita Mountjoy is returning from her maternity leave to take up the post again.  She brings so much energy and enthusiasm for the courses that she was instrumental in the design of initial delivery of.  I am sure she has many ideas of where she wants to take them so watch this space for new and exciting teaching developments on the horizon.
This is not really goodbye as I will be continuing my involvement in Imperial in various ways so may well cross paths with some of you again.  I have really enjoyed my time at Imperial, in several different roles, and have gained a wealth of experience which I will be taking with me to my new role as Clinical Lecturer in Primary Care at St George’s University. 
I hope many of you continue your invo…