For many of us, our daily commute can be a source of stress and frustration. Long journeys, traffic jams and careless drivers can all contribute to an increase in blood pressure levels and general feelings of anxiety and gloom – especially on a sleepy Monday morning, or on a Friday evening when all we want to do is get home and start our weekend. Research by Dr. David Lewis, stress expert and fellow of the International Stress Management Association, found that commuters were 33% less stressed when they were travelling by bus, compared to when they were driving.
Why Should We Drive Less?
So why don’t more of us opt to walk or cycle to work instead of drive? Or even hop on a bus and rest our feet while someone else worries about what the person in the next lane is doing? There are so many benefits to leaving the car at home and getting some fresh air. For one thing, we would certainly spend less money on petrol and other motoring costs. We would also be reducing our impact on the environment. But perhaps the most appealing benefit is that walking is a far less stressful commute, and it means we get more exercise, too.
In fact, the UK Chief Medical Officers recommend at least 150 minute per week of moderate physical activity. By walking half an hour to work and back each day, we could do double that amount of exercise. Not only would our bodies thank us for it, but our employers would too, as a healthy workforce is a productive workforce.
What’s Stopping Us Make The Change?
However, simply putting away the car keys and donning some running shoes isn’t always realistic. With just 39% of commutes taking fifteen minutes or less when driving, most people simply don’t live close enough to work to swap rush hour gridlock for a relaxing stroll
Similarly, there may not be adequate public transport links available in some areas, making it difficult for people to take the train or bus to work.
So what needs to change for more of us to reduce our mileage? Better public transport links would help for people living in more remote areas, as well as safer walkways – it can be difficult as a pedestrian to navigate some busy roads that may not have places to safely cross or even walk alongside the road.
However, while a leisurely stroll to work may be out of the question for some motorists, it may not be necessary to rely on our cars for every single journey.
Mark Bower-Dyke, Chairman of Be Wiser Insurance, comments: “While walking or cycling to work might only save you a couple of pounds per day in petrol, the journey could have a great impact on your health and mood. Even if you are unable to walk the distance to work, a good alternative is to walk to the shops or a friend’s house at the weekend instead of relying on the car. We can make a difference to both our wellbeing and our pockets – as well as congestion on the roads - by stopping to consider our options instead of immediately getting behind the wheel.”