Could cycling help reduce stress?
Workplace stress doesn’t only affect you while you’re at work, it can also have an impact on your health and other aspects of your life. While trying to leave issues at work in the office is a good way to deal with stress, it is usually easier said than done. However, new research has found that switching up your morning commute could be beneficial when it comes to better dealing with workplace stress.
Researchers from Canada’s Concordia University have found that cycling to work could help reduce your stress levels. The findings – published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management – revealed that those who travelled to work by bike reported feeling less stressed than those who headed to the office by car, meaning a bit of morning exercise could be the best option.
Unlike driving, cycling to and from work helps to improve your health by allowing you to exercise more. On top of this, it releases endorphins that can put you in a better mood and help you deal with stress easier. It can also work out tension and mean you aren’t stuck in rush hour traffic for as long as you would be when driving or catching public transport.
The researchers used a web survey to collect information from 123 adults. All participants worked for Autodesk, a software company based in Ontario. Participants were asked about how they got to work – cycling, driving or public transport – what their stress levels were and how they perceived their mood to be. The survey was completed within 45 minutes of arriving to work.
It was found that those who cycled had much lower stress levels first thing in the morning compared to those who drove. However, there were no differences when compared to those who took public transport, suggesting that being able to sit back and relax on a bus is also beneficial to stress levels, although not when it comes to exercise.
Stress first thing in the morning can have a big impact on the rest of your day, meaning that high levels of stress in the first 45 minutes of work could mean even more tension as the day goes on. This can make it harder to complete tasks, put you in a volatile mood and mean there is a higher chance of you taking workplace stress home with you.
In terms of health, high levels of stress at work can lead to increased blood pressure, which puts you at risk of a number of illnesses. If you couple this with a lack of exercise, the overall effects can be incredibly negative.
Cycling offers a range of other benefits that could make your days easier to get through, including better sleep, which can make stress easier to deal with. You’ll also find that cycling to work makes it easier for you to focus throughout the day, as the exercise will boost the amount of oxygen getting to your brain.
On top of this, it can help to strengthen your immune system, promote heart health, tone muscles and help you lose weight. Beyond the physical benefits and stress reduction, it also cuts down on air pollution compared to driving to work, which means you’re doing your part for the environment.