Getting bus or train to work makes us happier than driving

·2-min read
Cycling to work makes us happier
Cycling to work makes us happier

Walking or cycling to work reduces stress and improves brain power, according to a new survey.

Workers who commute to work by bus or train are happier than those who use their car, despite the crowds and disruption, the study also found.

18,000 British workers were studied by a team at University of East Anglia. It found that commuting which involved some physical activity, such as cycling or walking, improved measures like feelings of worthlessness, sleepless nights and unhappiness.

According to the Independent, the researchers believe that the exercise taken to walk to the bus stop or station and then the relaxation while travelling helps to make people feel better.

Lead researcher Adam Martin, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: "One surprising finding was that commuters reported feeling better when travelling by public transport, compared to driving.

"You might think that things like disruption to services or crowds of commuters might have been a cause of considerable stress. But as buses or trains also give people time to relax, read, socialise, and there is usually an associated walk to the bus stop or railway station, it appears to cheer people up."

He added: "This research shows that if new projects such as London's proposed segregated cycleways, or public transport schemes such as Crossrail, were to encourage commuters to walk or cycle more regularly, then there could be noticeable mental health benefits."

Researchers reported that car commuters were 13 per cent more likely to feel they were under constant strain or unable to concentrate.

It was also found that people who had longer walks to work within their commute had high scores on the well-being test and switching from driving to other forms of commuting increased the well-being score, reports the Telegraph.

The research has been published in the journal, Preventive Medicine.

The journal article said: "Together, these results appear to suggest that avoiding car driving may be beneficial to well-being. This view complements existing evidence of a negative association between driving and physical health and is consistent with the hypothesis that car driving, a non-passive travel mode that requires constant concentration, can give rise to boredom, social isolation and stress.

"However, this view is also consistent with the hypothesis that intrinsic enjoyment is gained from the exercise or relaxation associated with active travel."

According to researchers, this is the first long term study to investigate modes of commuting and the effect on well-being.

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