Researchers Stephane Brutus, Roshan Javadian and Alexandra Panaccio compared how different modes of commuting - cycling, driving a car and taking public transport - affected stress and mood at work. The results indicated that cycling to work was a good bet. "Employees who cycled to work showed significantly lower levels of stress within the first 45 minutes of work than those who travelled by car," he says. The study did not, however, find any difference in the effect on mood.
The research team collected data from 123 employees at Autodesk, an information technology company in Old Montreal, using a web-based survey. Respondents replied to questions about their mood, perceived commuting stress and mode of travel. The survey differentiated between perceived stress and mood, a more transient state affected by personality traits and emotions.
The study only assessed answers from respondents who had completed the questionnaire within 45 minutes of arriving at work. This was done to get a more 'in-the-moment' assessment of employees' stress and mood.
"Recent research has shown that early morning stress and mood are strong predictors of their effect later in the day," he explains. "They can shape how subsequent events are perceived, interpreted and acted upon for the rest of the day."
"With growing concerns about traffic congestion and pollution, governments are increasingly promoting non-motorized alternative modes of transport, such as walking and cycling. I can only hope that further studies will follow our lead and develop more precise and deliberate research into this phenomenon," concluded Brutus.
The study was published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.