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Train commuters 'healthier than walkers'

HealthBy Sunday World
Train commuters 'healthier than walkers'

Jumping on a train or bus to get to work rather than walking might just be reducing your risk of diabetes. A new study has suggested that Japanese commuters who used public transport were 40 per cent less likely to be diabetic and slimmer too.

Around 6,000 individuals were monitored for the study, undergoing a series of health examinations and being quizzed on how they get to work each day. It’s not yet clear why those who used a bus or train were healthier than those who walked to the office, but results showed they had better blood pressure, were slimmer and the least likely to be diabetic. People who walked or cycled were deemed next healthiest, while individuals who drove finished bottom in the health stakes.

Study author Dr Hisako Tsuji, of the Moriguchi City Health Examination Centre in Osaka, says it is impossible to determine if using public transport improves our health or if those taking the bus and train were healthier to begin with. Most people living in Japanese cities tend to only get to work by foot or bike if their office is less than 20 minutes away, which may explain why walking to and from a bus or train station equates to a longer journey and therefore more exercise.

“Active modes of commuting to work may be important physical activity in countries where lifestyles have become sedentary,” Dr Tsuji explained. “People should consider taking public transportation instead of a car, as a part of daily, regular exercise.

“It may be useful for healthcare providers to ask patients about how they commute.”

Experts from the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions, who heard the findings, are reluctant to read too much into the results.

“While it's 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," said a spokesperson.

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