I ONCE heard that the happiest people are those who can walk to work.

I can't remember who told me or on what basis they made the claim, but the idea stuck with me.

It always seemed that there probably was something inherently stressful about commuting, especially for workers faced with lengthy journeys, crammed public transport or hellish traffic jams.

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If 50 minutes counts as "walking distance" (and I suspect it does) then

I could be one of those lucky few, though I confess I mostly take the Subway. The lure of a lie-in is just

too tempting.

I am not alone, according to research compiled for Walk To Work Week, which ends tomorrow. In

a survey, 6% of workers said more time in bed was their main reason

for shunning a commute by foot, while 1% said they did not want to ruin their shoes. Others cited bad weather or long working hours.

Yet the same poll found that more than half experienced "undesirable emotions" during their daily commute, ranging from stress and anxiety to anger or panic and,

in 5% of cases, physical sickness. Anyone who has experienced the

cold, clammy hand of dread around their heart as the bus weirdo

makes a beeline for them will surely understand.

Add to that the £129 million meted out by British commuters ever year for this time-saving but dubious pleasure, not to mention the hazards of a sedentary lifestyle, and you have to wonder why more of us are not hitting the pavement instead.

According to the Walk To Work survey, those who did felt less stressed and more productive.

Obviously not everyone can walk to work, but those of us who can need

to face up to potential benefits - both physically and financially.

In my case, I spend £650 a year on Subway tickets. That could fund return plane tickets to Las Vegas instead.

Better still are the potential health benefits. This week it emerged a brisk 20-minute stroll a few times a week can cut blood pressure and increase your lifespan.

Professor Peter Elwood, who led the research at Cardiff University, said: "In a 35-year study of 2500 men in Caerphilly, South Wales, we have found that spending half an hour walking on most days is associated

not just with a reduction in the

risk of death, but also a reduction

in cognitive decline and dementia.

"Exercise does not just add years

to life, but adds life to years."

And if that is not enough to make you cast off your travelcard and

reach for the trainers, then what about the news that a lack of

exercise in your 30s increases your risk of developing heart disease

in later life more than any other

risk factor - including excess

weight, smoking or high blood pressure.

Australian researchers concluded that if every woman aged 30 to 90 achieved 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, the lives of more than 2000 middle-aged and older women could be saved each year in Australia alone.

So that is health, happiness and more trips to Vegas. I think I could

be persuaded.