Walking and cycling to work
Walking and cycling to work makes commuters happier and more productive
Posted on 12.07.2019
In Australia, more than 9 million people commute to work every weekday. The distance they travel and how they get there – car, public transport, cycling or walking – can influence their well-being and performance at work.
Our study, involving 1,121 full-time workers who commute daily to work, made several important findings:
- those who commute longer distances tend to have more days off work
- among middle-aged workers, those who walk or cycle performed better in the workplace
- Those who commute short distances, walk or cycle to work, are more likely to be happy commuters, which makes them more productive.
In Australia, full-time workers spend 5.75 hours a week on average travelling to and from work. Among them, nearly a quarter of commutes can be classed as lengthy (travel for 45 minutes or more one way).
Long commutes not only cause physical and mental strains on workers, but may also affect their work participation, engagement and productivity.
And Australia’s pervasive urban sprawl means most workers commute by car. But driving has been found to be the most stressful way to commute.
Driving to work is associated with a series of health problems and lower social capital (smaller social networks with less social participation), which all affect work performance and productivity.
Commuting can also affect work productivity through poorer physical and mental health. Low physical activity can lead to obesity as well as related chronic diseases, significantly reducing workforce participation and increasing absenteeism. The mental stress associated with commuting can further affect work performance.
A growing number of studies have found active commuting by walking and cycling is perceived to be more “relaxing and exciting”. By contrast, commuting by car and public transport is more “stressful and boring”. These positive or negative emotions during the commute influence moods and emotions during the work day, affecting work performance.
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