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Recent research is conclusive that a daily commute of more than 30 mins a day is not good for us at all – we are more likely to be involved in serious road related injuries, we add to the emission levels in the environment, and importantly we don’t have time to do things that make us feel better such as spending time with our families, doing physical activity, or just having a break away from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives.

But unfortunately, many of us don’t have the option to choose otherwise. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, and to afford to live here, many of us have to commute to the city where there are opportunities for career development, and where the financial rewards allow us to support our families. I’m sure if you have sat in traffic for 2 ½ hours on a Friday evening during the summer you’ve asked yourself is it really all worth it?? Well health wise it may not be – the good news is the research shows that this can be overridden by what is called active commuting.

Active commuting is using public transport. So, switching from driving your own vehicle to catching the Mahu City Express has been shown to improve wellbeing. Why? Because driving requires concentration – which over long periods can increase boredom, social isolation and stress. So how can we make the commute work for you and your health? The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand uses the Five Ways to Wellbeing when looking at prevention of stress and to improve population health. The Mahu City Express provides these at your fingertips daily.

The first way to wellbeing is to connect. A sense of social connection is one of our fundamental human needs. Connecting with other people instantly releases happy hormones into our brains which counteract stressful situations. The Mahu City Express isn’t your usual public bus system. It is a like-minded group of people, who start to know each other by name, who now connect outside the bus at social occasions, who connect on a business level, who share a drink or the daily quiz on the way home, who celebrate birthdays, who really enjoy each other’s company and look out for one-another: listen to them all call out if the bus looks like it’s about to leave somebody behind!

Secondly, taking notice of what is happening around us, and having the ability each day to have an hour or two where you have no choice but to sit back and watch the world – or the feel the joy of passing the backed-up traffic at speed, is good for our wellbeing. How often do we get the chance to just be? It is two hours of your day where you can sit, dream, plan, just think about your own wellbeing for a change. Leaving you ready to achieve to your full potential at work, or walk in the door at the end of the day relaxed and ready to be a part of your family.

Giving back is also one of the ways to wellbeing which increases our overall levels of happiness. It is seen in many forms on the bus, from offers of rides and transport to and from the bus, helping carrying bags, and bringing gifts of food for all the passengers after a hard day at work. But every single one of us is also doing the world a favour – with on average 150 rides booked a week – that’s 150 cars not on the road – and not polluting our beautiful country.

Staying active is the other way we reduce stress levels immediately. From a health perspective, all you need to do is 20 minutes a day of anything that you will do consistently. The bus can free up to an hour off your day to allow you time to get active. You won’t have to leave home so early, so you can enjoy a walk instead. Walking to and from the bus might be your 20 minutes’ activity! Either way your body and brain will thank you for it.

The final way to wellbeing is to keep learning. We are a nation attached to our cars, for a variety of reasons. However, when the cold hard facts of commuting are laid in front of us – financial cost, time cost, cost to our health and wellbeing, what will you do? Will you take this new knowledge and make it work for you? Or will you watch us driving past you down the bus lane, getting to the city relaxed, with no time pressures, and a few extra dollars in our pockets?