Published on June 4th, 2015 | by Cynthia Shahan14
Bicycle Commuting Ameliorates Stress, Boosts Psychological Well-Being
June 4th, 2015 by Cynthia Shahan
An efficient solution to stress, balanced exercise or fulfilling physical work clears the static and nourishes body and mind. Stressed from work? Worried from local or world news? Consider that active commuting (particularly, bicycling to work) ameliorates stress and boosts psychological well-being, according to a UK study titled, “Does active commuting improve psychological wellbeing? Longitudinal evidence from eighteen waves of the British Household Panel Survey.” Findings from Stanford University’s Calming Technology Lab similarly reveal that cyclists are 40% less stressed during and after their commutes compared to those who drove or took public transport.
The days I am out the door at 6:30 am to plunge into the soil with seedlings or harvest greens, lifting heavy bins of veggies over my head, I unwind. Physical activity ameliorates an over-active mind. Not a grower, but traveling to the office instead? By walking or biking to work, one can set the intention for the day — and begin on a deep breathing, calmer note.
“But we live in the spectacular and sometimes frightening age of information. We use information to bring our ideas to life, to communicate, to learn. But with such power comes responsibility: we must take care of our minds.”
“People normally think of stress as something that happens at work, and certainly it does, but commutes are interesting because it’s a place where you’re kind of in-charge of your environment—you’re usually on your own, in control, and you can set the tone of your day.”
Bicycling gently bounces the head, increasing healthy circulation between the right and left hemispheres of the brain — back and forth — balancing and calming the mind. This method of travel also lifts depression and stress, pushing it to the periphery of one’s aura and on out.
Spire and the Calming Technology Lab collected through 1,000 commuters wearing the Spire clip-on (techno) device that measures one’s physical signs of stress (or healthful balance).
A Smartphone app receives notifications as the device checks breathing in real-time. Thus, notifications are sent to improve breath, breathe more deeply, point out stress, and perhaps train one to start the trend of using breath to drop stress bodily. Moraveji of Spire, explains: “Your breathing patterns mirror your state of mind, so when you’re stressed, it changes the way you breathe. But when you’re tracking breathing, you can also change your breathing. It’s a two-way process.”
Or simply get on the bicycle. An 18-year study from the UK published last year, noted at the top of this article, pointed to the benefits awarded to commuters who walked and biked. The active commuters felt a higher sense of well-being and contentment. They rested more deeply and had more energy than drivers, surely helping them in their professional as well as personal lives.
Fastcoexist notes that the Spire data indicates that men are more burdened with tension at this time of day, measuring 50% more signs of stress than women. So why take your stress from the job home to your private space and loved ones? A commute on the way home will set the intention of relaxing and enjoying the evening or “off hours.” Clear the field as you leave one job for more creative work at home.
Bicycling is a very effective means of preventive healthcare, a previous CleanTechnica post pointed out. With the “improved health of the general population that increasing levels of bicycling can provide, healthcare costs can be reduced substantially.”
“Lifestyle diseases” are treatable simply by improving poor diet, offsetting a lack of activity, and increasing exposure to fresh air and the wonders of nature. Some gifted doctors promote such prophylactic healthcare and have been found prescribing bicycling. Much respect to Boston in that regard as well. “The City of Boston has announced a program to subsidize bike-sharing memberships for low-income residents, in partnership with Boston Medical Center.”
If not commuting, remember that a daily walk or two improves mental acuity and vitalizes the walker. Walking is particularly useful as a daily activity of aging adults and seems to keep cognitive decline at bay. A recent study probed how walks mitigate aging and stimulate our minds even if one has degenerative problems.