Slate has a new piece that summarizes a slew of studies that confirm what many already know: long commutes, mostly by car (but also by train or bus) make us unhappy, and may even raise the level of stress that shortens our lifespan.
What the article doesn’t mention is that if you commute by bike or walk, it could make you happier. The Cascade Bicycle Club pulls together a number of studies into one of those (now almost annoyingly) cute animation shorts:
For the last 9 years, I lived very close to work – only about a quarter mile. The convenience cannot be overstated. But I found myself having a difficult time separating work from home – not enough mental and physical space between dinner with my family and the class I just finished teaching. Now I enjoy a 10 mile commute by bicycle, and couldn’t be happier. Commuting by bicycle or as a pedestrian means moving through interesting spaces, alert to the world around you using all senses, using the rhythm of the body. I arrive to work with a fresh mind, and I arrive home with my exercise done.
While my commute is about 45 minutes, I know a colleague who lives near me and does a nearly 3 hour walk each way in the summer. Most people thing that’s crazy, but his kids are grown, and I can’t help but think about how refreshing that is for the mind. Long walks everyday are clearly underrated.
Use your body on the commute!