Sustainability

Walking, cycling better for health than driving

Posted on February 27, 2015

Photo: Elliot Scott via Flickr
Photo: Elliot Scott via Flickr

Walking or cycling to work is better for people's mental health than driving to work, according to new research by health economists at the University of East Anglia and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR).

A report published today reveals that people who stopped driving and started walking or cycling to work benefited from improved wellbeing. In particular, active commuters felt better able to concentrate and were less under strain than if they travelled by car.

These benefits come on top of the physical health benefits of walking and cycling that are already widely documented.

Experts also found that travelling on public transport is better for people’s psychological wellbeing than driving.

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. The data allowed them to look at multiple aspects of psychological health including feelings of worthlessness, unhappiness, sleepless nights, and being unable to face problems. The researchers also accounted for numerous factors known to affect wellbeing, including income, having children, moving house or job, and relationship changes.

The study also shows commute time to be important.

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.”

Data from the 2011 Census (England and Wales) shows that 67% of commuters use cars or vans as their usual main commute mode compared to 18% who use public transport, 11% who walk and just 3% who cycle.

“This research shows that if new projects such as London’s proposed segregated cycleways, or public transport schemes such as Crossrail, were to encourage commuters to walk or cycle more regularly, then there could be noticeable mental health benefits.”

The new report contradicts a UK Office of National Statistics study ‘Commuting and Personal Wellbeing, 2014’, published in February, 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. Crucially, this new research looks at commuters who had changed travel mode from one year to the next, rather than comparing commuters who were using different travel modes at a single point in time.

The research was carried out by the Health Economics Group at UEA’s Norwich Medical School and the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York. It was funded by CEDAR, a multi-disciplinary collaboration between UEA, the University of Cambridge, and MRC Units in Cambridge.

‘Does active commuting improve psychological wellbeing? Longitudinal evidence from eighteen waves of the British Household Panel Survey’ is published in the journal Preventive Medicine on Monday, September 15.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (0 Comments)

More News

BYD electric bus wins L.A. Sustainability Coalition award

Award reflects BYD’s growth in the Los Angeles area and nationally, now employing hundreds of Californians at its factory in Lancaster and supplying buses to transit agencies around the country.

MBTA's new buses powered by BAE's propulsion systems

The HDS300 hybrid-electric-propulsion systems will soon be powering 44 New Flyer articulated buses in Boston with an option for 46 more as part of its largest HDS300 order to date.

BYD breaks ground on Phase II expansion of vehicle manufacturing facility

The Phase II expansion marks an important step in BYD’s plan to triple employment in three years, undertaken in response to increased demand for its zero-emission coaches, buses, and new medium- and heavy-duty truck product lineup.

Proterra unveils new Catalyst E2 series at APTA Annual

Its nominal range of 194 miles to 350 miles means the Catalyst E2 series is capable of serving the full daily mileage needs of nearly every U.S. mass transit route on a single charge and offers the transit industry the first direct replacement for fossil-fueled transit vehicles.

BAE Systems’ Maddox to retire after 43 years in industry

John Maddox has been BAE Systems’ regional sales manager, transit, for western North America and the southern states for  nearly 10 years.

See More News

Post a Comment

Post Comment

Comments (0)

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment

TruckingInfo.com

THE COMMERCIAL TRUCK INDUSTRY’S MOST IN-DEPTH INFORMATION SOURCE

Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

LCT Magazine

Global Resource For Limousine and Bus Transportation

Please sign in or register to .    Close