What's the least stressful way to commute?

Pedalling to work came out top in a recent study. But how do the risks and benefits stack up when you allow for injuries and pollution?

According to recent research, cycling to work can reduce your risk of early death by 40%. But if avoiding an early demise isn’t enough to get you on a bike, there’s also a more immediate benefit – if you commute by bike, you will feel less stressed and be more productive at work. A study last week in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that, for the first 45 minutes of work, employees who cycled in had less stress than those who travelled by car. And how stressed you feel early in the morning is apparently a strong predictor for how you will feel throughout the day. The authors say it “can shape how subsequent events are perceived, interpreted and acted upon”.

The solution

Given that cycle commutes in cities can be blighted by air pollution and heavy traffic, that there is a reduction in stress levels by biking to work may seem counterintuitive. Or it could be that other commutes are even worse. The study was done in Montreal on 123 employees at an information technology company and it was small – only 25 were cyclists. This is actually more than the country’s national average – only 6% of Canadians cycle to work. In Britain about 4% of commutes are on bikes. In contrast, in Copenhagen, which has prioritised cycling so that no car or bus can travel faster through the city than a bike, about 40% of commuter trips are by bike.   Excerpt from The Guardian, read the full article here.

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