So you don’t get to take a Google bus to work. There are still ways to make your commute more tolerable—fun, even—that will simultaneously make you happier, calmer, and more creative.
For example, you could transform your commute into a workout. Besides burning calories, walking can boost creativity by 60 percent, suggests a recent study from Stanford University. Though the researchers did not cite why, it appears that increased blood flow to the brain may have something to do with it.
“Riding to work also kills two birds with one stone. I'm getting exercise and getting to work,” says Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists and avid bike-to-worker. Besides the cardiovascular perks, cycling could be your ticket to happiness; a recent study from Clemson University suggests that among people who drive to work, walk, bike, take trains, or ride buses, cyclists are the happiest.
Then there are the financial benefits to the commute turned workout. Owning a car costs around $9,000 a year, Clarke estimates. “The bike I've been riding to work every day for more than 10 years cost around $1,400,” he says. “Of course, I spend a little more each year in my local bike shop getting an annual tune-up, replacing tires, tubes, and cables and such, but I'd be shocked if that added up to $9,000 every 10 years.”
Don’t want to sweat on your way to work? Try public transportation—it may be less stressful than driving yourself. MIT researchers found that the stress levels of drivers stuck in city traffic are equal to the stress levels people experience before skydiving.
Want to walk or ride but live too far away from work? Pull a double: Take the bus or train part of the way, and ride or walk the first or last few miles, Clarke suggests. Once you work your way up to a five-mile ride, you have some gut-busting benefits to look forward to; the International Bicycle Fund estimates that commuting just five miles each way 200 days a year will help you burn up to 20 pounds of fat.