New research suggests that people who walk to work are around 40% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes as those who drive.
The latest study on the association between physical activity and diabetes risk was carried out by experts at Imperial College London and University College London.
The researchers analysed health data from a UK survey of 20,000 people and found that those who walked, cycled or even used public transport to get to the office were less significantly likely to be overweight than those who drove or took a taxi.
People who walked had a 40% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as a 17% reduced risk of high blood pressure (hypertension), while those who cycled to work were around half as likely to have diabetes compared to those who drove.
With type 2 diabetes and hypertension being major risk factors for heart disease, the researchers said that avoiding using a car could have major benefits for commuters’ health .
“This study highlights that building physical activity into the daily routine by walking, cycling or using public transport to get to work is good for personal health,” commented Anthony Laverty, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.
Study co-author Dr Chris Miller said “Walking or cycling to work is obviously better for you than sitting in a car, but the scale of effect it has on conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure is perhaps surprising. Even walking to the bus stop or train station each day can dramatically improve health.”
“We are recommended to have at least 30 minutes’ moderate exercise a day so only a 15-minute walk at either end and you have done your quota – although the longer the better. It’s also more convenient than going to the gym because it can be factored in as part of your day without having to set aside any other time.”
The findings are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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