The reduction in risk depends on the distance you cover each day. Not surprisingly, the longer the journey, the lower your chances of getting one of the diseases. Walking seemed to have a big impact on health and longevity only for someone who covered more than six miles a week, for instance.
To find out the impact of 'active commuting', a team of researchers from Glasgow University looked at the lifestyles and health of 263,450 people with an average age of 52 years, and who were in paid employment and commuting.
The greatest risk reduction was among long-distance cyclists whose chances of developing cancer were 44 per cent less likely than someone who takes the train or car to work, and 55 per cent less likely to die from the disease. Their risk of developing, or dying from, heart disease fell by similar amounts.
Overall, cyclists seemed to have the biggest risk reduction, possibly because it is a more intense form of exercise. They saw a reduction in risk across all the disease groups—heart disease, cancer and all-cause mortality. Walkers had a lower risk of heart disease and mortality, but the greatest impact was among those who walked the most, and at least six miles a week.