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Ditch the daily commute to be happier, says report

A report published by the University of East Anglia has revealed ditching the daily commute and taking public transport makes people happier.

THE REPORT, published earlier this week, showed that active commuters felt better able to concentrate, when they walked or caught public transport to work, and were less under strain than if they travelled by car.

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”.

The research team studied 18 years of data on almost 18,000 18-65-year-old commuters in Britain (but you could probably easily make the same case for those of us in Australia who drive to work).

The study also revealed that the length of the commute was an important factor.

Adam Martin said: “Our study shows that the longer people spend commuting in cars, the worse their psychological wellbeing. And correspondingly, people feel better when they have a longer walk to work.”

The study found that the longer the walk, the more happy the commuters scored. Adding 10 minutes to the commute time of an active traveler actually increased a sense of well-being while an extra 10 minutes in the driver’s seat decreased commuters well-being levels. The effects of switching from driving to active travel were significant. Researchers noted that the rise in happiness levels for those who switched mirrored major life changes, such as getting married or having a baby.

The report by East Anglia University and CEDAR flys in the face of an earlier report in the UK (February) by the Office of National Statistics study ‘Commuting and Personal Wellbeing, 2014’, which found people who walked to work had lower life satisfaction than those who drove to work, while many cyclists were less happy and more anxious than other commuters.


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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober