Bicycle commuting provides stress-lowering benefits
Adult bicycle commuters are less likely to be stressed compared with commuters of other transport modes, according to a cross-sectional study.
The study included 788 adults who regularly travelled to work or study locations, with the exception of those who only commuted on foot. A comprehensive telephone survey was conducted to determine the participants’ travel behaviour from June 2011 through May 2012.
Of the participants, 398 were bicycle commuters (median age 35 years) and 390 were not (median age 37 years). Compared with nonbicycle commuters, bicycle commuters had significantly lower risk of being stressed (relative risk [RR], 0.73; 95 percent CI, 0.60 to 0.89; p=0.001).
Among bicycle commuters, those who rode 4 days per week (RR, 0.42; 0.24 to 0.73; p=0.002) and those who rode ≥5 days per week (RR, 0.57; 0.42 to 0.77; p<0.001) were less likely to be stressed compared with those who rode less than 4 days. This association persisted even after adjusting for individual and environmental confounders and when using different cutoffs of perceived stress.
Bicycle commuting has particularly been shown to have a positive effect on all-cause mortality among both men and women in all age groups, and potentially improves the health-related quality of life in previously untrained healthy adults. Other benefits of active commuting include helping reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and noise, and improving social interaction. [Scand J Med Sci Sports 2008;18:498–510; Environ Int 2011;37:766–77]
On the other hand, perceived stress is defined as a global and comprehensive stress construct that refers to the interaction between the individual and the environment in the presence of a stressor. The perception of an event as being stressful is associated with a range of physiological, behavioural and psychological changes, which can in turn result in cardiovascular disease, increased negative affect, lowered self-esteem and lowered feelings of control. [Angiology 2013;64:529–34]
The present data show that bicycle commuting can lower the risk of being stressed, with environmental determinants such as the number of public bicycle stations and bikeability, as well as personal attitudes, seemingly exerting an influence on effect of bicycle commuting, according to researchers.
In light of the health benefits of bicycle commuting, decision makers may promote the mode of transport as a daily routine to reduce stress levels and improve public health and well-being, they added.