Is Your Commute Actually LOWERING Your Stress? (or, Bunny Slippers Part II)

written by CHRC
8 · 16 · 18

About 20 years ago, a client called me exasperated. A brand-new CEO from out-of-town had made a decision without consulting HR: the company’s headquarters was leaving the Loop and moving to the suburbs. His main fear was losing experienced staff who would have no way of reaching the new suburban location. But a year later, this same client called me, and labor markets were not his only issue. In the year that he had stopped taking the train, which involved a slight walk across town, and started driving to work, he had gained 20 pounds.

Well it turns out that this is not just an anecdotal story. There is growing evidence that commuting to work, especially commuting via public transportation, can be very beneficial to your health and your career. In a BBC article this month, David Robson highlights some of the benefits of the commute.


The commute provides time to transition between your roles at home and at work. It can be hard to switch mindsets so quickly, and this can often add conflict and stress at work. Jon Jachimowicz of Columbia Business School suggests that “a few moments thinking about the day in front of you can therefore ease the change of gears, reducing the stress once you arrive in the office.” He has found that “people who engage in ‘work-related prospection’ tend to weather the stresses of the journey better than people whose minds wander aimlessly.” By using the time spent commuting to think about your upcoming day, work week, and plans to achieve your goals, it leads to greater daily job satisfaction.


Commuting after work also offers time for reflection. Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School found that workers performed 20% better when given 15 minutes of reflection time at the end of every day. Setting aside time to reflect on the day during a commute could increase productivity and lead to a sense achievement.


And indeed there is the benefit of greater physical health. A Taiwanese study found that people who used public transportation were 15% less likely to be overweight compared to those who traveled by car. Richard Patterson of Imperial College London found that about a third of public transportation commuters met the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day during their commute alone. Now no one is suggesting that exercising during a commute should replace other physical exercise, but it’s an unexpected perk.


Lower stress levels and better fitness? We’ll sign up for that commute any day. Read More Here

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