Biking to work may reduce how stressed an employee is at the beginning of the day.
Researchers from Concordia University have compared different modes of commuting—cycling, driving and public transportation—and how they impacted stress and mood at work, revealing that foregoing the city bus or the gridlocked highway by cycling might be the best way to start the workday.
“Employees who cycled to work showed significantly lower levels of stress within the first 45 minutes of work than those who travelled by car,” Stéphane Brutus, a lead researcher on the study, said in a statement. “Recent research has shown that early morning stress and mood are strong predictors of their effect later in the day.
“They can shape how subsequent events are perceived, interpreted and acted upon for the rest of the day,” he added.
The researchers found that while cycling benefited an employee’s stress level, their mood did not depend on how they arrived at work.
The researchers analyzed data from an online survey of 123 employees of Autodesk, an information technology company in Old Montreal.
The participants answered questions about their mood, perceived commuting stress and mode of travel within the first 45 minutes of work in the study.
According to Brutus, time specification ensured a more precise picture of stress upon arrival at work.
“There are relatively few studies that compare the affective experiences of cyclists with those of car and public transport users,” he said. “Our study was an attempt to address that gap.”
The researchers also confirmed previous research that showed that cyclists perceived their commute as being less stressful than those who travelled by car.
Cycling is considered a relatively inexpensive mode of transportation and a 2015 study from the Institute for Transportation and Development found cycling to help reduce CO₂ emissions from urban passenger transportation by 11 percent by 2050, while also saving society $24 trillion globally between 2015 and 2050.
According to Brutus, 6 percent of Canadians cycled to work in 2011 and public policy may seize on this growing trend.
“With growing concerns about traffic congestion and pollution, governments are increasingly promoting non-motorized alternative modes of transport, such as walking and cycling,” Brutus said. “I can only hope that further studies will follow our lead and develop more precise and deliberate research into this phenomenon.”