Employers should encourage their staff to walk or cycle to work instead of commuting by car or by train, according to Sustrans.

The sustainable transport charity said active commuting can help prevent obesity and other health problems and also relieve stress.

As well as benefiting individual employees, this is also advantageous for businesses in terms of improved productivity and staff absence, with active employees taking fewer sick days than their inactive counterparts.

Dame Carol Black, national director for work and health at Sustrans, said: "Active staff are more motivated and less prone to sickness, leading to financial reward for employers."

She said companies should work with their employees to promote the benefits of physical activity and encourage them to ditch the car in favour of cycling or walking.

In a bid to improve the nation’s fitness and reduce vehicle pollution, the government launched a Cycle to Work scheme which offers tax breaks to employers who want to lend bikes and safety equipment for their employees.