Well-Being//

Commute Wearing You Out? Try Looking at This.

The secret to a calmer trip to work could be hidden in plain sight.

 SEAN GLADWELL/ Getty Images

With an unfortunate abundance of traffic jams and train delays, getting to and from work can sometimes be a job in itself — and a stressful one at that. But your surroundings might just hold the solution you’ve been looking for.

Science backs this up: A recent study from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) shows that commuting through stretches of nature everyday can work wonders for your well-being.

But just how much of an impact could this have on your morning or evening travel? It’s helpful to note that almost 3,600 people from cities in the UK, Netherlands, Spain and Lithuania weighed in on their commuting experiences using questionnaires. The researchers eventually found that the mental health score of people traveling through nature on their daily commute was 2.74 points higher, on average, than those who did so less often.

And the people who took part in “active commuting,” such as “walking or cycling,” did even better in this department.

Wilma Zijlema, an ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study, commented on it in a statement, looping in even more context for readers:

“From previous experimental studies we knew that physical activity in natural environments can reduce stress, improve mood and mental restoration when compared to the equivalent activity in urban environments. Although this study is the first of its kind to our knowledge and, therefore, more research will be needed, our data show that commuting through these natural spaces alone may also have a positive effect on mental health,” the researcher said.

The spaces that apply to this research are probably the ones you’re already thinking of: environments featuring blue and/or green natural resources, like trees, parks and bodies of water.

People commuting through nature every day were also “likely to be active commuters.”

Chances are, working a little more outside activity into your daily commute could be beneficial in more ways than one. But even if you can’t, taking a nice, long look outside your window will help your mental well-being, too. 

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