When it comes to personal health, we now know that looking after the mind is just as important as caring for the body. Our modern lifestyles bring with them many triggers that can have an impact on our mental health - but the way we travel need not be one of them.
Keeping active and staying connected are important to our well-being, and evidence suggests that choosing public transport over private cars means happier people living healthier lives.
Heading out to work, dropping the kids at school or even spending a family day out shouldn't be something that results in stress or anxiety.
But those who commute by car - concentrating on the road, doing battle with ever-increasing congestion and having less opportunity to rest - are 13% more likely to feel the effects of constant mental strain.
Travelling by bus can alleviate that stress and lift your mental health in many ways:
- Bus riders are up to three times more active than car drivers because, of course, walking to the end of your street is more exercise than stepping out onto the driveway! The extra walking means passengers spend more time in the fresh air and get the blood pumping more oxygen to the brain. This has been found to be just as effective as taking an anti-depressant.
- The extra exercise also helps passengers keep off about 5-1/2 lbs, meaning they are not only physically in better shape, but are also psychologically happier with their weight.
- Letting someone else do the driving takes away the burden of constant concentration. Bus users can sit back and relax - even when traffic is queuing - because, instead of gripping the steering wheel with clenched fists, they have the opportunity to spend time reading, listening to music or chatting to fellow passengers. There is a leisurely pace and a social side to riding the bus, because the only thing to concentrate on is your stop coming up ... and there's no need to worry about finding a place to park!
- For those who cannot/do not drive, buses are a lifeline which play a vital role in preventing social exclusion. It means the elderly, the disabled, the young and people of all backgrounds can interact with the communities around them, access job opportunities and stay linked to family and friends. All of these things boost a person's self-esteem and reduce the barriers that can come with mental illness.
So, for this special awareness week, remember: mental health - it's better by bus.
Published 15th May 2018