Commuters who trade in their car for a pair of comfortable shoes will do more than just save money on gas, new research finds.

A study by researchers at Imperial College London and University College London discovered that people who walk to work are roughly 40 percent less likely to have diabetes compared with those who drive to work.

Using data from a survey of 20,000 people across the U.K., researchers examined how various health indicators were associated with people's method of getting to work. They found that people who cycled, walked and used public transportation were less likely to be overweight compared with those who drove or took a taxi.

Additionally, employees who walked to work were 17 percent less likely to have high blood pressure compared with people who drove to work.

"This study highlights that building physical activity into the daily routine by walking, cycling or using public transport to get to work is good for personal health," said Anthony Laverty, of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.

The researchers said employees can reduce their risk of developing serious health problems, such as heart attacks, by using a form of transportation other than a car. The study showed that 19 percent of working-age adults who use private transportation — including cars, motorbikes or taxis — to get to work were obese, compared with 15 percent of those who walked and 13 percent of those who rode a bike.

The study also found wide variations in the modes of transportation used in different parts of the U.K.

"The variations between regions suggest that infrastructure and investment in public transportation, walking and cycling can play a large role in encouraging healthy lives, and that encouraging people out of the car can be good for them as well as the environment," Laverty said.

The study's findings were recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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The big benefits of walking to work
Commuters who trade in their car for a pair of comfortable shoes will do more than just save money on gas.