If you’re driving to work every day, you may want to reconsider if you’re worried about your health. In a recent study the American Heart Association discovered that using public transportation to commute to work is linked to better overall personal health, Men’s Fitness reported on Monday. Obviously not everyone has the opportunity to utilize public transportation as a viable commuting option, but for those that do Japanese researchers are saying that public transportation is the healthiest way to get to work—even compared to simply walking or biking.
According to an American Heart Association report, people who use public transportation for their commute to and from work are 44 percent less likely to be overweight, 27 percent less likely to have high blood pressure and 34 percent less likely to have diabetes when compared to drivers. A surprising discovery in the research showed that public transit commuters showed lower health risks than walkers and bikers, though that can be attributed to the fact that public transit users often have to travel farther distances to get to their bus or metro stop then just simply heading directly from point A to point B.
“People should consider taking public transportation instead of a car, as a part of daily, regular exercise,” said lead study author Dr. Hisako Tsuji. “It may be useful for healthcare providers to ask patients about how they commute.”
The research does come with a caveat, however, as researchers point out two limitations to the results. First, there’s no way to know whether using public transportation directly improved the health of the study participants or if they were already healthier to begin with. Second, the data may not directly translate outside of the Japanese population where the study was conducted. “Physical activity may be more effective at reducing diabetes among this population than it is among a Western population,” Dr. Tsuji said.
Regardless, the research shows a general trend. Driving to work everyday as your primary means of transportation is by far the least healthy way to get to work. Walking, biking, using public transportation, or a combination of the three are proven to be a more healthy means of commuting. Unless you’re exercising in your car while you sit in traffic, driving does next to nothing for your physical well being. Have you considered public transportation for your commute to work? If not, you may be missing out on some important daily exercise.