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Research project “GISMO”: Gaining health effects through active commuting

The positive health effects of physical activity are commonly well known. However, the potential of active commuting for health prevention is rarely used.  A recently launched research project, “GISMO – Geographical Information Support for Healthy Mobility”, seeks to provide evidence for a comprehensive corporate mobility management, which promotes the daily commute as an opportunity for increasing the amount of physical exercise through active mobility.

According to the most recent mobility statistics for Austria “Österreich unterwegs”, the car is used for 60% of all commuting trips. Considering the fact that a majority of trips is shorter than 10 kilometers, the potential of active mobility for commuting trips is obvious. The project is funded by the Austrian Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology within the program „Mobilität der Zukunft“. Under the lead of cycle competence member Z_GIS (Department of Geoinformatics, University of Salzburg) expertise from sports medicine, geographical information (GIS) and corporate mobility management are merged in a unique way.

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The health effects of interventions that promote active mobility are quantified in a first project phase. For this, the mobility behavior of employees at the central hospital in Salzburg (SALK) is changed towards active mobility (walking and bicycling, partly combined with public transit). The subjects of the study undergo a sport medical examination at the beginning and after the intervention in order to assess health effects. Key figures, which are extracted from this study, are then merged with spatial models. This facilitates the calculation of optimal commuting recommendations from a health perspective. The gained information is provided to employees and employers through a web platform, which is drafted in this project.

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With this platform questions such as the following can be addressed: “Which health effect can I expect from switching from car to bicycle commuting?“ or “How much healthier is it to leave the bus two stops earlier and walk the rest?”. Additionally, the project outcomes facilitate evidence-based interventions by employers and corporate mobility managers in order to increase employee’s health through active commuting. For example, the potential reduction of sickness absence can be calculated when every employer who lives within 10 kilometers from the work place receives a bicycle.

Because of the interdisciplinary character of this research, the project consortium consists of a broad variety of experts. Medical doctors from Zürich and Salzburg implement the clinical study to assess the health effects. Another cycle competence member, Herry Consult, contributes extensive know-how in mobility research and consultancy as well as in corporate mobility management. Studio iSPACE from the Austrian Research Studios complements the project leader’s competence in spatial modeling and analysis. TraffiCon provides the concept for the interactive, user-friendly information platform, which will be fueled by existing and developed web services.

Further information about this project can be retrieved from the project website www.gismoproject.com.

 

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Posted on January 26, 2017