March 11


Can Walking to Work Lower the Risk of Obesity and Diabetes?

By Gabriela

March 11, 2021

How do you usually travel to work? Is it by car, bus, or maybe you’re biking?

Well, according to Imperial, active modes of travel to work like biking or walking reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity.

The Study

Anthony Laverty, MSc, and his team from the Imperial College London compared the risk of obesity and diabetes in people using a taxi or driving a car, with those walking to work.

The results showed that walking reduces the risk of diabetes by 40%, and the risk of obesity by 20%. On the other hand, biking turned out to cut the risk of diabetes by 50%, and the one for obesity by 37%.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine shared the researchers’ discovery that walking to work can lower the risk of high blood pressure in comparison with driving a car.

The Importance of Active Travel in a Population Prone to Obesity, Diabetes, and Hypertension

What’s more, they emphasized the importance of active travel in promoting physical activity and providing an environmental benefit. This is important for any population where obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure are common health problems.

For example, 62% of the English population is obese or overweight, 30% have high blood pressure, and 5.5% have diabetes.

The Understanding Society Survey

Past studies suggested that biking and walking to work reduce the levels of insulin, blood pressure, and triglycerides.

Moreover, the researchers analyzed the effects of walking and cycling work among female nurses. It showed that active commuters gained less weight than their counterparts.

Researchers were trying to find how active or inactive travel affects the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Also, they looked into sociodemographic factors related to different forms of transportation among 20,458 English participants between the ages of 16 and 65.

The data from the Understanding Society survey were arranged by gender, age, education, ethnic group, residence, and socioeconomic class. Researchers asked the participants about their means of travel to work as well as the distance.

Also, they asked about their weight and height, as well as their diabetes and blood pressure status.

The Results

The results showed that 69% (2/3) of them use a car or taxi to travel to work. On the other hand, 12 percent walk, 16% use public transportation, and 3$ rise a bicycle.

According to data, women use more public transportation or walk than men. Also, they are less likely to ride a bike to work. Moreover, participants age 16 to 29 walk or use public transportation more often than older ones.

And, those between the age of 50 and 65 are less likely to ride a bike to work than others. Nonwhites from the survey walk or use public transportation more often than whites.

Even though researchers listed the use of public transportation as a means of active transportation, it just showed a drastic reduction in BMI (body mass index), as well as the obese and overweight status.

On the other hand, walking reduces body mass index, overweight or obese status, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

It turned out that walking up to two miles doesn’t reduce BMI. However, walking or cycling the same distance is reducing the risk of high blood pressure.


Researchers realized that more vigorous means of active travel could be more beneficial than private and public transport.

However, researchers didn’t include people who are not in the labor market and used self-reported data on BMI, blood pressure, and diabetes. Also, they didn’t take into account other types of physical activity.


  • Gabriela

    Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Diabetes Health Page, Fitness trainer and instructor has dedicated her career to educating and informing people for over 10 years. As one of the most passionate diabetes advocates, Gabi has worked tirelessly to ensure that those people receive the education and support they need to properly manage their diabetes and achieve their health, fitness and weight loss goals.

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