While it is already established that a physically active lifestyle helps reduce the likelihood of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, it is unclear whether these risk factors for heart disease and stroke are affected by how you get to work.

A Japanese study compared bus/train commuters, walkers/bikers and drivers and adjusted for other factors such as age, gender, smoking, and others.

Compared to drivers, public transportation users were 44 percent less likely to be overweight, 27 percent less likely to have high blood pressure and had 34 per cent less reduced risk of diabetes.

The bus/train commuters had even lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and overweight than the walkers or bikers.

The researchers suggested that one explanation could be that these commuters actually walked farther to and from the train or bus station than walkers or bikers travelled to and from work.

"If it takes longer than 20 minutes one-way to commute by walking or cycling, many people seem to take public transportation or a car in urban areas of Japan," said lead author Hisako Tsuji, director of the Moriguchi City Health Examination Centre in Japan.

"People should consider taking public transportation instead of a car, as a part of daily, regular exercise," Tsuji said. "It may be useful for healthcare providers to ask patients about how they commute,” the director said.

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