Public transportation as a hidden activity

October 8

While certain studies claim that using public transportation is better for a persons’ general health than driving, the number of these studies are low. They provide an introduction to the topic and useful correlations, but do not provide actionable conclusions. The results of these studies, along with xbird’s public transportation technology (that tracks transportation type at start and end times), helps patients and their health consultants understand patterns of their blood glucose levels and how they are affected by public transportation. Thus, corrections to behavior and useful conclusions can be made, to create positive outcomes.

Lower risk

When it comes to avoiding hypoglycemic events, public transport is regarded as safer than driving. Should an emergency occur, you can always get off at the next station or solve the issue on the transit as you are not in control of the vehicle.The latter also means you are not in risk of endangering others or yourself should you have decreased responsiveness or lose consciousness from a hypo event. Granted, public transit might not always be an option based on geography or other circumstances that individuals face, so those that require insulin therapy should still know what measures to take in their individual situation.

Healthier choice

The primary study that a majority of sources reference is a Japanese study from 2015. This study showed that public transportation users were 34% less likely to have type 2 diabetes compared to those that drove. There is a 44% less risk of overweight and 27% less chance of high blood pressure as well, both of which are main risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Subsequently, these indications are the root of many diabetes related complications, so controlling them can lead to diabetes prevention and better diabetes management.

It’s extremely convenient to walk only from the front door to your car while traveling to work but how does this daily routine affect your health? According to the research, it's not so good. Public transportation commuters walk and move more than they think. There is always a walk to the station whether it is a bus or a train, then a walk inside the vehicle and from the station to the final destination. This mostly goes unnoticed because of the monotony of the routine, but over time, the positive effects add up.

While Japan is not commonly associated with weight and diabetes concerns, the country is one of the nations most affected by the worldwide diabetes epidemic. Useful parallels can be drawn between the challenges they face and those of other countries.

Extra safety regulations

One’s circumstances are always important, and while in normal times public transit might be the healthier option, we are now living in the unorthodox world of COVID-19. To prevent exposure to COVID-19, a private car is the safest transportation method without any doubt. So when making a decision for public transportation one must follow all the safety regulations, which is especially important for people living with diabetes. A bus or a train is a rather small space with poor air circulation and minimized opportunities for proper distancing.

  • Choose public transport only if there is no cycling or walking option possible
  • Try to avoid traveling during rush hours
  • Social distancing, mask and trying to avoid touching surfaces if there is no need

Public transportation can include more activity than one thinks. This is good, but you should always listen to your body and know how it may behave. Always consider that there is a possibility of a hypo, as it depends on a variety of factors. It may be too hot and stuffy in the vehicle or too crowded and stressful. Be attentive and don’t hesitate to discuss with your healthcare consultant absolutely any case, no matter how minor. We can’t state that public transportation will solve all diabetes related problems, as there are many variables included, but it definitely may have an impact.

All the suggestions in this article are presented for general information and should not be perceived as a medical advice. You should always consult your healthcare professional when making any changes in your activity, medication, or diet.


Susan E Neville 1, Kristina S Boye, William S Montgomery, Kazuya Iwamoto, Masato Okamura, Risa P Hayes, Diabetes in Japan: a review of disease burden and approaches to treatment, 2015

American Heart Association, Taking public transportation instead of driving linked with better health, 2015

Survey reveals hidden incidence of 'hypos' among people with Type 2 diabetes, Diabetes UK, 2019

This project is co-financed via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)