Active commuting, commuting modes and the risk of diabetes: 14-year follow-up data from the Hisayama study

J Diabetes Investig. 2022 Oct;13(10):1677-1684. doi: 10.1111/jdi.13844. Epub 2022 Jun 9.


Aims/introduction: We aimed to investigate the association of active commuting (cycling or walking to work), as well as the association of the individual commuting modes, with the risk of diabetes in a prospective cohort of community-dwelling adults in Japan.

Material and methods: A total of 1,270 residents aged 40-79 years were followed up for a median of 14 years. Active commuting was defined as either cycling or walking to work. A Cox proportional hazards model was used to examine the association of active commuting with the risk of diabetes. Associations for different forms of active commuting (cycling, walking and mixed modes of cycling or walking with non-active components) were also examined.

Results: During the follow-up period, 191 participants developed diabetes. Active commuting was associated with a lower risk of diabetes than non-active commuting after adjustment for potential confounders (hazard ratio [HR] 0.54, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.31-0.92). With regard to the commuting modes, the risk of diabetes was significantly lower in individuals who commuted by cycling alone (HR 0.46, 95% CI 0.22-0.98), and tended to be lower in individuals who commuted by walking alone (HR 0.14, 95% CI 0.02-1.02) compared with that in individuals with non-active commuting. Meanwhile, no significant associations were observed for the mixed mode of walking and non-active commuting (HR 1.69, 95% CI 0.77-3.71).

Conclusions: Active commuting, particularly that consisting exclusively of cycling or walking, was associated with a reduced risk of diabetes. Our findings support a public health policy that promotes the choice of active commuting for the prevention of diabetes.

Keywords: Commuting; Physical activity; Prospective study.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling
  • Diabetes Mellitus* / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Transportation*