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Researchers: Free bus passes have health benefits for older adults

Researchers say that free bus passes have health benefits for senior citizens because they encourage seniors to be more physically active. According to a report from the Imperial College London, researchers drew their conclusions from four years worth of data in the UK National Travel Survey.

The researchers discovered that people with a bus pass are more likely to walk, cycle or use public transportation. In addition, the researchers found that seniors with bus passes are more likely to lead an active lifestyle regardless of socioeconomic status.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that physical activity is extremely important for older adults. Health officials say that a moderate amount of daily exercise lowers the risk of coronary heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes.

“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 School of Public Health at Imperial College London, in a statement.

“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.”

According to researchers, British transportation officials introduced free buss passes for people aged 60 and over in 2006. Recently, concern about public spending has led to calls for the program to be ended, as the scheme costs England 1.1 billion euros a year.

The findings were recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.