A newly released study in the Journal of Transport and Health (yes, there's such a thing) has confirmed what many of us around the water cooler have always suspected: Cycling makes you happy.
The sample size is small—just 24 cyclists in Auckland, New Zealand—but the overall study is bolstered by additional ethnographic research, transport psychology, exercise science, and in-depth interviews with said cyclists. Furthermore, the study found, electric bicycles may even enhance that feeling of satisfaction. See it here.
The researchers in the New Zealand study conclude that four key components are responsible for the huge highs of cycling commuters: 1) the degree to which the riders have control over their commute and time of arrival; 2) Enjoyable levels of sensory stimulation; 3) The “feel better” effects of moderate-intensity exercise; and 4) Greater opportunities for social interaction.
This corresponds to other studies that have shown bike commuters tend to be more smiley than their cage-driving counterparts. Research conducted by the University of Glasgow, for example, concluded that “commuters who cycle to work have 41 percent lower risk of dying from all causes than people who drive or take public transport.” There’s agreement from other experts too; cycling boosts your mood the same way all physical exercise affects us, “by influencing the release and uptake of chemicals in your brain that make you feel good,” according to the Mental Health Foundation UK.
The bottom line is that cyclists were consistently shown to have the highest levels of satisfaction with the trip to work. While the reasons have not been closely studied, we can all pretty much agree that if you enjoy something, you’ll continue to do it consistently—even if it’s physical activity. So maybe consider hopping on a bicycle. From health benefits to mood enhancement and even the fact that it could save you big bucks, cycling seems to be a great hack to improve your happiness.