A sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health—it’s something we’ve assumed for a while and in recent years it’s been backed by science. Making a habit of sitting inactive for long periods brings a higher risk of developing diabetes, certain types of cancer and it even brings increased risk of depression.
In light of this information, it’s not surprising that a recent study published in Preventative Medicine found commuters who traded in their car for a bike or walking shoes were happier than their car-bound counterparts.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia and the Center for Diet and Activity Research looked at data from 18,000 British commuters. Pulling data from the British Household Panel Survey, they measured factors like frequency of sleepless nights, feelings of worthlessness and the ability to face problems and unhappiness.
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Those who walk or cycle to work self-reported feeling less stressed and better able to concentrate. The study accounted for variables like relationship changes and income disparities.
The same study found those who use public transportation also reported being less stressed than drivers.
Authors of the study say the results could be used to better inform city planning and infrastructure, leading to a happier and healthier population.
Interactive graphic: America's commuter cyclists