Walking or cycling to work could cut the risk of a fatal stroke or heart attack by nearly a third, according to scientists. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Walking or cycling to work could cut the risk of a fatal stroke or heart attack by nearly a third, according to scientists.

Making daily commutes more active would be a good way of making exercise part of busy modern lifestyles to significantly cut the threat of cardiovascular diseases, they said.

Researchers analysed data from more than 350,000 adults gathered to track their health over four years to assess how alternatives to the car – public transport, walking and cycling – affected illness and mortality.

Subjects were asked details about their travel to work and when not commuting.

Two-thirds of adults in the UK drive to work all the time, found the study in the British Medical Journal. More active travel methods such as cycling were more common for non-commuting travel. Only 8.5 % went to work by bicycle.

Those who had more active regular commutes had a 30 % lower risk of fatal cardiovascular disease and 11 %  lower risk of suffering these illnesses.

Workers who regularly took part in active travel, both to commute and in general, slashed the risk of a fatal stroke or heart attack by 43 %.

The study was carried out by Cambridge University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Imperial College London.