Stretching the legs important to productivity

A happy and healthy workforce is important to the productivity of any business, and this idea has been backed up by a recent UK study.

Health economists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) found that walking or cycling to work is better for mental health than driving and will impact both engagement and productivity.

Over 18 years, the researchers polled more than 18,000 commuters across the UK and analysed what type of transport they took to work and what their current mental state was. This included their feelings of worthlessness, unhappiness and inability to face and deal with problems.

While the benefits of walking and cycling to work have been well documented in recent years, researchers found the difference in mental state between these groups quite startling.

"Our study shows that the longer people spend commuting in cars, the worse their psychological wellbeing. And correspondingly, people feel better when they have a longer walk to work," researcher Adam Martin explained.

Researchers also compared the impact on employees travelling to work via public transport and were surprised to find that even this mode is better than sitting alone in the morning traffic.

"You might think that things like disruption to services or crowds of commuters might have been a cause of considerable stress. But as buses or trains also give people time to relax, read, socialise, and there is usually an associated walk to the bus stop or railway station, it appears to cheer people up," Lead Researcher Adam Martin, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said.

This means it could be an idea for businesses to promote public transport and walking to work by providing discounts for mass journeys. Businesses could also install bike racks or secure storage spaces for those wanting to exercise.

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