Surprising new research on the health benefits of how you get to work.

A Japanese study presented to the American Heart Association found commuters who take the bus have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke than people who drive and also those who walk or bike.

The study found bus and train commuters in Japan were 44 per cent less likely to be overweight than people who drive. They were also 27 per cent less likely to have high blood pressure and 34 per cent less likely to have diabetes.

Researchers said the bus and train commuters had even lower rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity than pedestrians or cyclists.

The study’s lead author, Hisako Tsuji of the Moriguchi City Health Examination Centre, said commuters may actually walk farther to and from the train or bus station than walkers or bikers traveled to work.

“If it takes longer than 20 minutes one-way to commute by walking or cycling, many people seem to take public transportation or a car in urban areas of Japan,” said Tsuji in an American Heart Association news release.

American Heart Association spokesperson Jorge Plutzky said it’s unclear whether the research applies outside Japan.

"Is this something related specific to Japan and their commutes and a longer commute and a longer distance of walk before or after," said Plutzky.

Winnipeg Regional Health Authority physical activity coordinator Deanna Betteridge said using your daily commute to get exercise is a good way to fit physical activity into a busy schedule.

Betteridge said walking, biking and even riding the bus are all better options than driving.

"We know people who take public transportation have three to five times more physical activity in their day so that's looking at instead of six minutes, upwards of 20 minutes more than someone who doesn't use public transportation,” said Betteridge.

Japanese researchers said there's no evidence to show taking public transportation improved people's health or whether users were already healthier than others who were studied.

Researchers also said all of the participants who took part in the study were Japanese people and are less likely to be overweight than Americans.