A new study from Concordia University in Montreal finds that people who commute to work on a bike arrive at the office less stressed. Researchers Stéphane Brutus, Roshan Javadian and Alexandra Panaccio compared how different modes of commuting, cycling, driving a car and taking public transport affected stress and mood at work.
Published in the International Journal of Workplace Management (2017; 10 , 13–24), the survey-based study compared stress levels among people who rode a bike, drove a car or used public transportation during their commute. The research team collected data from 123 employees at Autodesk, an information technology company in Old Montreal, using a web-based survey. Respondents replied to questions about their mood, perceived commuting stress and mode of travel. The study only assessed answers from respondents who had completed the questionnaire within 45 minutes of arriving at work. This was done to get a more ‘in-the-moment’ assessment of employees’ stress and mood.
Brutus notes that this time specification was the study’s major innovation.
“Recent research has shown that early morning stress and mood are strong predictors of their effect later in the day,” he explains. “They can shape how subsequent events are perceived, interpreted and acted upon for the rest of the day.”
Its results indicate that cycling to work is a good way to have a good day, says Brutus, the lead author. “Employees who cycled to work showed significantly lower levels of stress within the first 45 minutes of work than those who travelled by car,” he says.
“There are relatively few studies that compare the affective experiences of cyclists with those of car and public transport users,” says Brutus, an avid cyclist himself. “Our study was an attempt to address that gap.”
Cycling has been shown to be a relatively inexpensive mode of transportation and a good form of physical activity. A 2015 study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy found that cycling could help reduce CO2 emissions from urban passenger transportation by 11 per cent by 2050. It could also save society $24 trillion globally between 2015 and 2050.
Brutus pointed out that 6 per cent of Canadians cycled to work in 2011 and the number is increasing steadily. “With growing concerns about traffic congestion and pollution, governments are increasingly promoting non-motorized alternative modes of transport, such as walking and cycling. I can only hope that further studies will follow our lead and develop more precise and deliberate research into this phenomenon.”
Information gained from Concordia University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
1Stéphane Brutus, Roshan Javadian, Alexandra Joelle Panaccio. Cycling, car, or public transit: a study of stress and mood upon arrival at work. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 2017; 10 (1): 13-24