Researchers say that walking or biking to work can boost fitness, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
"Active commuting was positively associated with fitness in men and women and inversely associated with body mass index, obesity, triglyceride levels, blood pressure and insulin level in men," say Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen and colleagues at the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
During the study, the researchers looked at 2,364 adults in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study who worked outside the home.
The participants reported the length of their commute in minutes and miles, including details on the percentage of the trip taken by car, public transportation, walking or bicycling.
The researchers further assessed participants' height, weight and other health variables, including blood pressure and fitness levels as assessed by a treadmill test.
A total of 16.7 percent of the participants used any means of active commuting to reach their workplace.
The study showed active commuters were less likely to be overweight or obese and have healthier triglyceride levels, blood pressure and insulin levels.
The results add to existing evidence that walking or biking to work is beneficial.
"Furthermore, increasing active commuting will have the dual benefits of increasing population health and in reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental supports for commuting, such as physical environment and sociocultural factors, have been shown to promote active forms of commuting," said the authors.
The study has been published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.