The holiday season is a joyful time of the year, but it’s also the time when we tend to eat more and gain the dreaded “Christmas pounds.” It’s off to the gym or back to our usual diets come 2013, but ScienceDaily.com reports that researchers may have discovered a way to keep some of the weight off.

The study, led by computer science and mathematics professor Sheldon H. Jacobson at the University of Illinois, postulates that automotive travel and calories are both connected to body weight. Decreasing one or both have positive results in our body mass index (BMI).

The moral of the story is more commuting, less driving. "An easy way to be more physically active is to spend less time in an automobile. Any time a person sits behind the wheel of a car, it's one of the most docile activities they can do in a day," Jacobson says.

The researchers developed a model that calculated the decrease in overall BMI taking into account average BMI, caloric intake and driving habits. They found that if people drove one mile less a day, the national average BMI will decrease by 0.21 kg/m2 after six years. Not only would people be healthier, the modest decrease in automobile usage can have big benefits for costs as well. Less money would be spent on fuel and healthcare as more people would be predictably healthier.

Jacobson concludes with a final tip, "One has to be just as careful about when you choose to drive as when you choose to eat. These small changes in our driving and dietary habits can lead to long-term significant changes in obesity issues.”

(Photo by epSos .de via Flickr Creative Commons)

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