The Manchester Metrolink is the UK’s largest light rail network; over 34 million journeys were made on the system in 2015. Following our London, New York, Paris and Berlin commuter calorie maps, we wanted to produce a similar resource for the network in our own home city.

  • Commuters can burn hundreds of extra calories per week by getting off the tram just one or two stops early on their journey each day, and walking the rest of the way.
  • For example, those normally alighting at St Peter’s Square would burn an extra 285 calories per week on average by getting off at Victoria and covering the remainder on foot.
  • Walking this distance on the way home too would double this weekly total to 570 calories. This is what someone could expect to burn exercising for 45 minutes on a treadmill, or an hour on an exercise bike.
  • We based calculations on someone at the average UK weight (11 stone) walking at a speed of 3 miles per hour.

[Click on the image to enlarge]

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(We would like to thank TfGM for granting us permission to use their original map design as a basis.)

Londoners will hardly have forgotten the strikes that caused underground services to be suspended in summer 2015. Thousands of commuters at the time were left trying to find alternative means of transport; so we thought it might be interesting to put together a calorie map, to let people know how many they could stand to burn walking between stops instead.

Following this, we also developed similar maps for New York, Paris and Berlin.

Our intention wasn’t to encourage people to give up using public transport altogether, but more to let commuters know that the journey to and from work presents something of an opportunity for those looking to shift extra calories when going about their regular routine. Swapping small sections of a sitting journey with walking, we said, can make a significant difference to someone’s overall physical activity quota.

Let’s take the Central line as an example: someone who normally travels to Oxford Circus, but instead chooses to get off at Tottenham Court Road, would burn an extra 38 calories on their commute.

Spending 30 or 40 calories by getting off the tube a stop early on the way on to work might not seem like much: it’s roughly the calorie equivalent of half a banana. But over the course of a week it adds up. Doing this twice a day (on the way to and home from work) would amount to ten times a week, or 300-400 calories.

As a point of reference, going at it for half an hour on a running machine might typically burn around 350 calories. So that’s one gym session down, just by getting off the tube one stop early every day for five days.

18 months on, we thought it might be interesting to turn our attention a little closer to home: Manchester.

Manchester’s Metrolink network isn’t quite as big as the London Underground, but it has developed significantly in recent years to become the UK’s largest light rail network. There were 34.3 million Metrolink journeys made in 2015 alone.

Once more, we aren’t suggesting that someone forego the tram altogether in an effort to get fit. For someone travelling into the city from Prestwich for instance, the one-hour-and-21-minute walk would be somewhat less than feasible to undertake twice every day.

But someone who usually gets on the tram at Prestwich and travels through to St Peter’s Square could burn an extra 57 calories per trip by getting off at Victoria and walking the rest of the way.

Done once a day over five days, this would add up to 285 calories: that’s typically just over 30 minutes on an exercise bike, or around 25 on a treadmill.

Walking this leg on the way home too would double it to 570 (adding up to one hour on an exercise bike, or around 45 on a running machine).

Health benefits

Cardiovascular exercise is crucial for a multitude of reasons. It helps to keep our circulation functioning well, and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. It also helps to maintain muscle and bone health, and bolsters our immune system so that we’re better able to fight off infection.

Physical activity is also becoming increasingly linked with good mental health, helping to lower stress levels and improving focus.

Basic guidelines set by the NHS state that adults should aim to undertake two and a half hours per week of cardiovascular activity, such as running, fast walking or swimming.

Setting aside time to exercise is something many claim to find difficult. But it isn’t a rule that physical activity has to take place on the track or in the gym. Utilising the distance you cover on your journey to work can help you to use your time economically, and even reduce the amount of your own spare time you need to spend training.

Trivia Corner: Derby Day Calorie Burn

Since it began operation in 1992, the tram has become a vital mode of transport for home and away fans travelling to Old Trafford. More recently the network was extended to East Manchester, and now services Manchester City’s Etihad stadium; so neutrals visiting the city can now see both stadiums with a day ticket.

However, we thought it might be interesting to indulge in a spot of trivia, and see how many calories separate the two stadiums for those looking to cover the distance on foot, or on bicycle wheels.

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