Taking bus or train to work may be healthier than walking: Study

Commuters at Raffles Place MRT station in the central business district of Singapore, on Oct 28, 2015.
Commuters at Raffles Place MRT station in the central business district of Singapore, on Oct 28, 2015.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Taking the bus or train to work may be even healthier than walking, according to a new study published on Sunday (Nov 8) by the American Heart Association.

"Bus/train commuters had even lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and overweight than the walkers or bikers," according to a press release about the findings, which were presented at the AHA's Scientific Sessions 2015 meeting this weekend.

The study, which was conducted in Japan, found that compared with drivers, public transport riders were 44 per cent less likely to be overweight, 27 per cent less likely to have high blood pressure and 34 per cent less likely to have diabetes.

But, in a rather counterintuitive result, somewhat improved health benefits were also seen in comparison with walkers and bikers, researchers said.

They suggested that one explanation could be that commuters actually walked farther to and from the train or bus station than people who biked or walked 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 study author Hisako Tsuji, director of the Moriguchi City Health Examination Center in Osaka, Japan.