Is there any study that explores whether people in big cities physically exert themselves more as part of their daily routine to the benefit of their physical health?

My thinking is this: people living in big cities (e.g. London, New York) often do not own a car and rely on public transport to commute to work 5 days a week. This might involve walking from their home to a subway station (and maybe climbing some stairs) as well as walking several blocks to their office when alighting from the subway. This is physically strenuous and something that those taking a car do not have to endure (I speak from experience, going to college in London but now being spoilt by the suburban California lifestyle).

In practice I know that there are many variables that cloud this argument so I wanted to know if there is any systematic research about it.

  • 2
    You have a very simplistic view of cohort studies. Even if we could find a goal variable (= some way of measure "healthy"), which is already an exceedingly tough problem, we have tons of confounding variables which correlate with your two conditions, such as exposure to smog, access to different food, access to different levels of medical care, different stress levels, access to gyms, etc. So, if somebody ever made a study, found out that big city people are on average healthier than rural people, and concluded that it's due to more walking to work, this would be an example for bad science.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 5 '15 at 12:49
  • How can walking a few blocks and climbing a few stairs be "physically strenuous" for anyone other than extremely obese people, people who suffer from serious illness etc.? Sep 6 '15 at 17:31
  • Is this taking into account the high(er) levels of air pollution?
    – HDE 226868
    Jan 28 '16 at 22:38
  • Your question now is basically "Why is walking healthy". Would you mind editing your question so that body and title are more descriptive of the problem?
    – Narusan
    Sep 17 '17 at 14:59

If all other variables are constant then yes. In real life it depends. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3098122/

  • Thanks, this was what I was looking for rather than people trying to prove they are smart by just dodging the core of the question. I guess the followup question is - do people in inner cities REALLY walk more than others. Sep 15 '17 at 16:54
  • @Sridhar-Sarnobat But then again, this answer does not give you anything but a personal opinion, additionally based on the assumption that there are no other factors. Basically you asked “Are people healthier when they move more?” and the reply was “Yes they are”.
    – Philipp
    Sep 16 '17 at 9:40
  • @Sridhar-Sarnobat that would require research or may be a glimpse at the fitbit data
    – Soapkz
    Sep 16 '17 at 11:40
  • @Philipp its not a personal opinion. Setting aside existence of any medical condition people are healthier when they move.
    – Soapkz
    Sep 16 '17 at 11:46
  • -1 First of all, Welcome to Health.SE! This site works a bit different to most SE sites because we have the rigorous community policy that all answers must be backed up with sources. Would you mind to adhere to this and provide sources for your claim? The question was Are big city residents healthier due to walking, too which you replied if they walk more, they are healthier. This is partly wrong (sola dosis facit venenum) and is not an answer to the question. Maybe big city residents do something else differently than those who live in rural areas, which you haven't covered in your answer.
    – Narusan
    Sep 16 '17 at 17:36

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