September 17th, 2014
Researchers from the UEA’s Norwich Medical School and the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York carried out the study using approx. 18,000 adult commuters from across the UK.
The study revealed that of the 18,000 commuters, 73% travelled by car, 13% walked and 3% cycled and only 11% used public transport. Those commuters who changed their choice of transport to cycling or walking to work found their general well-being improved not just in terms of fitness but in terms of being in a more positive state of mind.
Those commuters, who became more active by swapping their car or using public transport for more active methods of getting to work, reported feeling more able to concentrate and perform under pressure and found their working lives less stressful.
The study concludes that if government policies were geared more to encouraging people to take a more active stance to getting to work then the UK’s workforce would be healthier in physical and emotional terms overall. The health benefits alone are well documented with cycling and walking being excellent forms of cardiovascular exercise but the psychological benefits of exercise have never been properly researched on a large scale.
This study investigated how moving from a sedentary commute to an active commute effected emotional and physical well-being such as feelings of unhappiness, sleepless nights, feelings of worthlessness and handling pressures at work or home.
Other factors had to be taken into consideration when conducting the research to ensure the results were well balanced and inclusive for example factors known to affect well-being include job, income, relationships, family, children and moving house.
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 well-being. And correspondingly, people feel better when they have a longer walk to work.”