08 August 2018
New research[i] released today has shown that Brits who drive or take public transport to work are so stressed by their journey, it’s having a serious impact on their mental and physical health, and even taking its toll on their relationships and sex lives.
The study, commissioned by social enterprise free2cycle, showed that driving or taking public transport to work is significantly more damaging to our wellbeing than choosing a more active commute such as walking or cycling. A quarter (26 per cent) of people who travel to work by car, motorbike or public transport feel stressed by their commute; that’s almost three times more than people who walk or cycle (9 per cent).
Almost one in five (18 per cent) Brits who commute by driving or public transport say their journey makes them miserable, double that of those who have a more active commute (9 per cent).
Over one in ten (11 per cent) of all commuters surveyed said their journey impacts their relationships and sex lives. Men, it appears, are suffering in the bedroom the most, with twice as many stating their relationships and sex lives are affected by their commute than women (15 per cent of men, compared to 6 per cent of women).
£135,000 over their lifetime travelling to work, which could explain why almost a quarter (23 per cent) of those who do not walk or cycle say commuting drains their finances. People with a more active commute may be feeling smug, as not only do the majority enjoy their commute (60 per cent), only 6 per cent say they feel an impact on the wallet.
free2cycle, the organisation behind the study, is a social enterprise committed to transforming wellbeing through cycling. It does this by working in partnership with organisations, retailers, suppliers and particularly those who don’t currently cycle, to incentivise regular bike use.
Perhaps surprisingly, it isn’t Londoners who are feeling the strain of their commute the most; it’s the West Midlands; 30 per cent of Londoners say commuting makes them stressed, far less than places such as Walsall (43 per cent) and Birmingham (37 per cent).
Brits with a less active commute are also finding they put on weight as a result of their daily routine; almost one in ten (9 per cent), compared to a slim 2 per cent of more active commuters.
Contrary to what you might expect, it’s not the active commuters who are feeling the need for a hot soak after their commute; just 5 percent of cyclists and walkers find their journey physically uncomfortable, whereas over double the amount (11 per cent) of drivers and public transport passengers often have aches and pains, such as backache and leg cramps, as a result of their commute.
So why isn’t more of the nation ditching miserable and expensive journeys for a more active, less-stressful commute? Ninety-five per cent of those who don’t cycle or walk to work have considered it, however, there were factors stopping them from switching to a more active commute.
Sixteen per cent of those surveyed said they didn’t feel safe enough to choose a more active journey.
Sixty-seven per cent of people believe their employer could make allowances to enable a more active commute such as introducing flexible starting times, access to changing facilities and incentives for equipment such as cycle to work schemes. However, only 8 per cent of people said their employers have any allowances in place.
This needs to change. UK businesses are responsible for leading a change in prioritising health and wellbeing of their teams, and for this to be successful, they should include considering how they get to and from work.”
Five tips for kick-starting a more active commute
a sweltering 40 degrees, there’s no better time to switch to a more active commute, but it can be hard to get motivated. Professional cyclist Alex Dowsett gives his five top tips to get kick-started:
Get competitive – set up a leader-board at work and introduce prizes for the most miles covered per week
Suggest incentives to your employer –initiatives such as free2cycle not only get you a bike[JN1] which you don’t have to pay for, but your orgnaisation gets a healthier workforce, and you can offset a load of carbon (so the environment wins too!)
Start a dream fund – the average commute is £146 per month, so that dream holiday could be within reach sooner than you think
Consider an e-bike – if you don’t fancy that hill, or your journey is a little too far, an e-bike (which features a small motor) could give you a little helping hand you need
Mix up your journey – if it’s still too far, try getting off a stop early every day, then two, then three…
Notes to editors
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[i] *Survey of 2000 UK adults conducted by 3GEM RESEARCH & INSIGHTS in July 2018