Health economists at the University of East Anglia studied 18 years’ worth of data, looking at the impact of different ways of commuting on people’s mental health and wellbeing. They found that walking or cycling to work has more psychological benefits than driving, with participants reporting they felt happier, more relaxed, better able to concentrate, and less under strain. Interestingly, even travelling on public transport was linked to better mental wellbeing than 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,” explains lead researcher Adam Martin.
The study also found that the longer people spend commuting in cars, the worse they felt – and when they had longer to walk, they felt happier. Now there’s a reason to get your runners on!