One of the principles I was taught early on as a psychology student is “correlation is not causation”, which means that just because research finds trends does not mean that we can prove that one variable caused another.
A correlation has been reported of a higher percentage of the population that bikes to work in the cities considered the most fit in the US. Since biking to work requires regular physical exercise, it is not surprising that those that commute via bicycle increase the fitness quotient for their cities. Richard Florida also found correlations between those populations with a greater percentage of biking commuters and higher earnings, more creative jobs and fewer working class jobs, more diverse populations, and higher ratings of happiness.
Brian Cantrell, a web developer at Media Refined (parent company of DietsInReview.com), is an avid bicycle commuter who also mentioned happiness as a reason why he enjoys biking to work. “There are a lot of reasons I enjoy riding to work. The first is that I feel better when I get to work because I’ve got my blood pumping a bit so I really feel awake. I also like that you experience your city unmediated. When you are in a car you are traveling at a higher speed and there’s a wall between you and the neighborhoods you pass through so you don’t see much as you would on a bike. Lastly, I’m just happier when I’m active every day. I barely move while I’m at work and my eyes are always focused about two feet in front of me, definitely a sub-optimal situation, but I think cycling is the perfect antidote to it.”
One might think that people are more likely to be happier and more likely to bike to work in warmer climates. However, The Daily Stat reports that “the percentage of U.S. commuters using bicycles is lowest in Alabama, Tennessee, and West Virginia (0.1%) and highest in the District of Columbia and Oregon (1.9%), but the continent’s highest rates are in Yukon (2.6%) and the Northwest Territories (2.1%), two of the coldest parts of Canada.”
While the interplay of factors is likely somewhat complicated, bikers are reporting that they feel good when they cycle to work. I would guess that they work better as well. When Gabrielle Poshadlo of the Indianapolis Business Journal tried out bicycle commuting for an article, she found, “I realized my brain and body were buzzing with energy; in fact, any shroud of fatigue had been shed…”
As fall is fast approaching, I encourage you to consider experimenting like Gabrielle, and bike to work at least once. You may like how you feel and find that you enjoy multi-tasking your daily exercise during your commute. It’s certainly healthier than texting while driving!
August 23rd, 2011