A new study makes an additional case for at least considering a change in your means of getting to your 9-to-5. British researchers at the University of East Anglia found that walkers and bikers reported positive psychological effects from getting a little fresh air and moderate exercise on their way to work.
The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, found that people who went from another mode of transportation to walking or cycling reported improvements in their well-being — specifically, they felt that they were able to concentrate more at work and were under less strain that when they traveled by car.
"Our study shows that the longer people spend commuting in cars, the worse their psychological well-being," Adam Martin, the study's lead researcher, said in a statement. "And correspondingly, people feel better when they have a longer walk to work."
The data was taken from a longitudinal survey of nearly 18,000 commuters in Britain, and the findings were controlled for factors like income, having children, moving houses or jobs, and relationship changes.
There are a lot of reasons why, despite the perceived benefits, walking or cycling to work might not be feasible for a lot of commuters.
In the United States, people who are younger and childless and live in walkable communities such as cities tend to walk or cycle to work. Biking or walking aren't really good fits for traveling long distances.
But even when walking or cycling aren't viable options, the British study found that there were benefits to using public transportation instead of driving.
People who commuted by train or bus used that time to relax, read or decompress before work, even if those commutes can also be crowded.
"You might think that things like disruption to services or crowds of commuters might have been a cause of considerable stress," said Martin, who is a researcher at the University of East Anglia's Norwich Medical School. "But as buses or trains also give people time to relax, read, socialize, and there is usually an associated walk to the bus stop or railway station, it appears to cheer people up."