While ‘Health or Happiness’ study suggests biking to work might come up short, some YYC commuters disagree

Biking to and from work is a great way to get in shape and enhance your health, but according to a U.K. based study, it may not be the best way to increase your overall well-being.

The study “Health or Happiness? What Is the Impact of Physical Activity on the Individual?” published in the Kyklos Journal of Social Sciences in 2010, examined the impact of competitive, recreational and utilitarian forms of walking and cycling.

Utilitarian biking came up short, as it didn’t show the overall health and emotional well-being benefits compared to other forms of exercise.

 The study suggested that because of the external dangers that cyclists face, such as other motorists, poor weather and bottlenecked roadways, they are less likely to experience an increase in their own happiness.

Some Calgary bike commuters refute findings

The Calgary Journal caught up with two Calgarians who disagree with the findings, saying biking to and from work has many benefits — that in most cases help to increase their happiness.

Rachel Delacretaz-Jaunich is new to Calgary and new to commuting to work on her bike. She started doing so in June.

“Right now I like being outside,” says the former Victoria resident adding, “I feel like I’m getting my exercise, so that makes me feel good mentally.”Rachel Delacretaz-Jaunich is pretty new to commuting to work on her bike, however she is eager to see how it affects her wellbeing, and is planning on sticking it out through the winter season.

Photo credit: Tiffany Ritz

She admits travelling alongside traffic can be scary, but she says she tries to avoid dangers by sticking to the bike paths and sidewalks, “Drivers don’t really pay attention to you no matter how brightly lit up you are.”

Although she notes the risks, she also insists the commuter journey helps her to feel better about herself. “It grounds me,” she says. “It gives me time to reflect on the day and it just makes me feel good.”

Delacretaz-Jaunich says she’s eager to see how winter conditions will impact her travels.

Bike commuter Randall Berlin has experienced winter cycling, which he says is stressful.

Berlin acknowledges a sense of dread that comes knowing the winter commuting season has arrived. He says that’s why he no longer commutes during the snowy months.

Randall Berlin says he loves biking to and from work in the summer, but admits that commuting in the winter is just too dangerous, and hectic.

Photo credit: Tiffany Ritz“I’m sharing the roads with cars in the winter and it’s scarier because if I hit a piece of ice and I go down then I’m in trouble,” he says.

Berlin adds the winter commute requires more time and effort because of having to lug his work clothes back and forth.

“It’s not a huge amount of time, but it’s five or ten minutes more in your morning that sometimes I don’t have, so it’s easier to jump in the car and drive,” he says.

However, the fair weather cyclist insists biking to and from work gives him an overall sense of happiness. Berlin says not only is he reducing his environmental footprint, he’s also saving money, spending less time in rush hour and improving his physical health.

“I think biking is good for your well-being in lots of respects,” he says. “It’s a form of exercise, so if you can get it by commuting to and from work then it’s just done.”

While both cyclists understand the drawbacks of “utilitarian cycling,” they both view the benefits as contributing to higher levels of happiness.