The physical health benefits of regular exercise are well known. A new study reinforces the idea that switching from driving a car to cycling or walking to work has positive psychological effects too.
|Cycle commute along the riverside in Worcester|
The Universities of East Anglia and York have just published the results of an 18 year study of 18,000 UK commuters.
Those who cycled or walked to work were found to have a higher level of
wellbeing than those who went by car or public transport.
When analysing those who swapped the car or bus for cycle or going on foot they found they became happier after the switch.
The study looked at feelings of worthlessness, unhappiness, sleepless nights and being unable to face problems. The researchers allowed for factors that are known to affect wellbeing, including income, having children, moving house or job and relationship changes.
A more surprising finding was that commuters even felt better travelling by public transport, compared to driving. Lead researcher Adam Martin from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said ‘Our study shows that the longer people spend commuting in cars, the worse their psychological wellbeing’.
With growing concerns about congestion in Worcester this study gives yet another reason why it makes sense for employers and the City and County Councils to encourage more commuters to leave their cars at home.
This is what cities such as Bristol have been doing. As a result commuting by car is no longer the norm for the under 40’s. By 2011 57% no longer drove to work and cycle commuting for all age groups increased to 7.5%.
If you’d like to improve your own health and wellbeing then why not give cycling to work a try?