Some people love a long commute to work, seeing as it gives them a chance to really get their brain in gear before taking on their tasks for the day. For others, less than 30 minutes is the preferred duration, as anything too long leaves them feeling exhausted and drained before they even step into the office.
But regardless of what your commuting preferences might be, a new study published in the Journal of Transport Geography says that there’s a right amount of time to spend getting to work—if you want to perform well and be happy, that is.
The research, which involved 1,121 full-time Australian workers, found that people with longer commute times tended to take more days off work, while those with shorter commute times seemed to be happier and more productive.
And when it comes to productivity and mood at work, it’s not just the length of the commute that counts. The authors of the study also found that workers between the ages of 35 and 54 who walked or cycled to their offices performed better in the workplace than those who drove or took public transport. These findings back up previous studies which have shown that driving is actually the most stressful form of commuting there is.
Of course, the idea that actively commuting to work boosts productivity isn’t exactly surprising. For decades, we’ve known that exercise improves cognitive function, plus provides a healthy dose of dopamine that leaves us feeling happy and relaxed.
And yet, the data indicates that, in America at least, we’re not really putting this knowledge into practice. According to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, from 2008 to 2012, only 1.9 percent of workers between the ages of 35 and 44 walked to work, while an even smaller 0.5 percent biked.
The small percentage of Americans who actively commute to work is a shame, seeing as outdoor physical activity carries a wealth of health benefits for older age groups. For example, one 2018 study found that walking for just 40 minutes several times per week reduced the risk of heart failure in post-menopausal women by a whopping 25 percent. And another recent study found that people over the age of 60 who walked at a brisk pace had a 54 percent reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
So, even if actively commuting means it’ll take you a little longer to get work, there’s no question that it’s worth the extra time. And for more great advice on how to be a better employee, check out the Single Easiest Way to Be Happier at Work.
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